Tag Archives: Land Use

General Plan update

General Plan Update

SCAG to approve draft RHNA allocation on September 3
Planning Commission to review Circulation Element
Housing Advisory Committee to next meet October 7


The City’s Housing Element Update Advisory Committee seems to be cutting back to once-per-month meetings, and is expected to next meet in public on October 7, starting at 6:00 p.m. Without Council direction, the update of the Circulation Element has been assigned to the Planning Commission. They were to learn about that at their August 20 meeting, but it was canceled. Meanwhile, SCAG is expected to issue the long-delayed draft RHNA allocations on September 3, setting in motion an appeal period starting September 11. The City’s Final 6th Cycle RHNA Allocation is anticipated to be issued in February 2021 with the new general plan housing element due to the state by October 2021.  See Upcoming, below,

For the remainder of the City’s response to the recent announcement that Newport Beach needs to plan to add 4,832 (now 4,834) new housing units by 2029, see their new 2020 Housing Action Plan webpage.

At the January 28 City Council meeting, SPON submitted a resolution protesting the announcement and suggesting ways to deal with it.

439 Newport Beach residents, as well as 94 from neighboring cities, added their names and comments to the SPON resolution.  You may see the resolution in its final form here.

Thank you to all who signed and commented!

Latest News
Project Overview
Why We Were Watching
Recent Events
News Coverage
City Document Links
Earlier Newport Beach General Plan documents
Prehistory of General Plans in Newport Beach
Non-City Links
Other Helpful Links
Links to videos of comments on 2006 General Plan Update process

Details of what happened at the SPON GPAC meetings, including workshop notes, are archived in the Recent Events sections for the dates on which they were held:

Latest News:

On January 8 (see video and “Recent Events,” below), the City Council held a study session about its proposal for the General Plan Update.  Staff’s proposal was similar to the one heard on November 14, 2017 (see “Recent Events“).  As proposed, it will consist of three phases, the first year of which will consist of a consultant-facilitated “Listen and Learn Tour” collecting input from the community.  A five-member citizens committee appointed by the Council will help develop a Request For Proposals for the consultant and recommend who to hire. The resolution formally creating the committee was approved as Item 5 on the January 22 consent calendar. Following a one week application opportunity (applications were due by noon on January 30), the Council deviated from its normal Policy A-2 appointments procedure, and allowed the Mayor to select the five appointees in private consultation with two other Council members. The Mayor will also serve as a non-voting member of the committee. The full Council  “confirmed” the Mayor’s selections at its February 12 meeting (see “Recent Events,” below), but plans to expand the committee with two new members to be named on March 12. On February 13, City staff conducted a community outreach meeting  at Marina Park with the newly-appointed five-member Steering Committee in attendance, but not participating. The first formally-noticed meeting of the Steering Committee was held on February 20.  Originally tasked with reviewing a Request for Proposals for a single consultant to manage the entire General Plan Update process, the committee told staff to “bifurcate” the process and prepare an RFP to solicit a consultant for the public outreach (“listen and learn”) phase only.  A separate RFP for a consultant to manage the actual update would come after that.  The Steering Committee, with its original five citizen members, reviewed the revised RFP on March 6 and (with all seven citizen members in attendance) completed its recommendations on March 20.  On April 3 the committee heard staff presentations about the City’s traffic model and state requirements for the Housing and other elements.  It met again on May 1 to review the five responses to the RFP received from potential consultants.  Three of the respondents were publicly interviewed at the committee’s May 15 meeting, with the committee selecting Kearns & West. After reviewing to their cost proposal and detailed scope of work on May 29, the voted unanimously to recommend Kearns & West to the Council.  The Council approved the contract with them on June 25, although it was not signed by the Mayor until August 1. Steering Committee meetings disappeared while City staff worked with Kearns & West to develop a work plan for consideration by the Committee. The Steering Committee meetings resumed on September 12, and on September 25 they approved plans for an interactive GPU website and a community-wide launch event, which was held on Saturday, October 26, 2019. That was followed by a series of consultant-facilitated “Listen & Learn” workshops — one in each Council district with a follow-up series expected in early 2020. However, in view of an unexpectedly large state-mandated housing requirement, to add 4.832 new units in the next planning cycle, they thought they needed further direction from the Council on how to proceed. On January 14. the Council voted to dissolve the Steering Committee, and create a new committee focused on modify the General Plan’s Housing, Circulation and Land Use Elements to add the 4,832 units. Applications to serve on the new committee were due by January 25. On January 28, the Council adopted a resolution protesting the 4,832 unit requirement, and also received a resolution from SPON doing the same. Appointments to the new Housing Element Update Advisory Committee were made at the February 25 Council meeting, and it was expected to commence monthly meetings starting March 25, but that was postponed due to the coronavirus stay-at-home order. Its first meeting was finally held on July 1 and was broadcast live with phone-in participation available. It has met two more time, and may meet again on October 7. See Upcoming below.

While the City was waiting to start its GPU, SPON continued its efforts to press for improvements to the present General Plan and to the prepare public to participate in the broader update. To those ends, SPON created its own General Plan Advisory Committee.

The SPON GPAC functioned as an independent citizens interest group. Starting on November 18, 2017, it held multiple well-attended and lively meetings,  (see “Recent Events,” below). The last SPON GPAC meeting was held on January 12 (see “Recent Events,” below). SPON thanks all who have and will participate!

Project Overview:  Ever since incoming Mayor Kevin Muldoon announced the initiation of an update of the city’s General Plan as a major objective for the City Council during the 2017 calendar year, the details of what that might entail have been a moving target.  No activity actually occurred in 2017, and it now appears none will occur in 2018 as well.  SPON nonetheless hopes to prepare citizens to have some influence over the process as further details emerge, as well as to lobby for improvements to the existing General Plan, most of which was adopted in 2006, and none of which appears to have been implemented entirely as promised.

Why We Were Watching:  Although SPON has repeatedly called for the development of “comprehensive” plans for specific areas of the city, such as Mariners Mile, West Newport Mesa and the Airport Area, the city proposal could be different and could have worrisome consequences. In 2006, the General Plan update process was used, without the full understanding of most residents, to expand and “reset” the Greenlight development thresholds throughout the city.  By approving the updated land use tables and maps, voters in effect gave the “Greenlight” to future projects they assumed they would be given a second chance to vote on, such as the two recently erected high-rise office towers (PIMCO and Irvine Company) in Newport Center (whose erection was specifically contrary to policy statements in the 2006 General Plan) and the massive 524-unit Villas Fashion Island apartment project at the corner of Jamboree and San Joaquin Hills Road.

With greater public awareness, a similar, but even more fast-tracked and developer-driven General Plan update effort in 2013-2014 was overwhelmingly rejected when approval of the land use changes was placed on the ballot as Measure Y.

Measure Y did nothing to allay the widespread impression that staff, consultant and others, guided by unknown influences, formulate most of the content of General Plan Updates “off camera,” spoon-feeding largely predetermined recommendations to what is ostensibly a citizens committee, eventually congratulated for its “hard work.”

While city staff has indicated the present update may not even touch the critical land use limits needing voter approval, some Council members, early on, mentioned hoping to see the matter on the November 2018 or 2020 ballot — which implies that it will.

Whatever the process turns out to be, for the sake of “our town” close watchfulness will be needed to ensure the General Plan modifications are resident-driven rather than developer-driven.


September 3 @ 1:00 p.m. – SCAG Regional Council Meeting (Zoom meeting)

  • Agenda here (28 MB)
  • Live Stream
    • The Southern California Association of Governments is the “metropolitan planning organization” that sets regional policy and assigns housing quotas to Orange County cities
    • Expected actions at this meeting include:
      • Item 1: Adoption of the Connect SoCal regional transportation plan
      • Item 23: Assignment of Draft Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) Allocations for the 2021-2029 planning period (as affected by Connect SoCal plan)
        • Newport Beach is expected to receive a draft allocation to plan for 4,834 new dwelling units (up 2 from previous estimates)
        • Issuance of the draft allocations will set in motion an appeal period starting September 11, 2020
        • The Final 6th Cycle RHNA Allocations are anticipated to be issued to local jurisdictions in February 2021 with new general plan housing elements due to the state by October 2021.

October 7, 2020 @ 6:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers (?)

  • Look for agenda here
    • The fourth meeting of the new Housing Element Update Advisory Committee is tentatively scheduled for this date.
    • Topics have not yet been announced.
    • The meeting will likely be broadcast on NBTV and live streamed on the City website. Those interested can phone in comments during the meeting, and, if held with the committee and staff in the Council Chambers, can also observe and comment from the adjacent Community Room. Alternatively, it may be held as Zoom webinar with no one physically present and those wishing to comment having to register in advance.
  •  Early 2020:  The earlier plan to appoint a large (25-30 member) General Plan Advisory Committee to comprehensively revise the entire GP at the conclusion of the “Listen and Learn” Tour seems to have been abandoned, for now.
  • September 11, 2020:  Start of period for City to appeal it’s draft RHNA allocation to plan for 4,834 new dwelling units the 2021-2029 cycle.
  • February 2021: Final RHNA allocation expected from SCAG
  • October 15, 2021: Deadline for City to submit to the State an updated Housing Element demonstrating compliance of plan with State-mandate quotas for the 2021-2029 housing cycle.
  • In other recent and upcoming City activity related to the current General Plan, on February 12, 2019, the City Council approved a GP amendment to make possible the Harbor Pointe Senior Living project (a use not presently allowed at the proposed site).  On August 13, 2019, it approved another General Plan amendment, this time to allow zoning changes needed to construct the Vivante Senior Living project.  Ironically, the first was changed to “Private Institution” and the second was changed from “Private Institution.”
  • In addition, approval of the Ford Road Residential application would require a General Plan amendment to change the that property’s current land use designation (currently “Public Facility”).  The Koll Center Residences proposal also requires at minimum a minor change to the General Plan to transfer 3,000 square feet of retail development allocation, and many, including SPON, have questioned whether the proposal is otherwise in compliance with the General Plan vision for the Airport Area.  It was the subject of a Planning Commission study session on January 31, 2019, but appears to have since been completely redesigned.

Recent Events:

September 2, 2020:  The new Housing Element Update Advisory Committee held its third meeting in the Council Chambers. Topics covered included a presentation from the consultant regarding their public outreach plan, and from City staff about their “roadmap to compliance” plan for meeting the state’s RHNA assignment. There was also a report about a subcommittee’s search for housing “opportunity sites” in the Airport Area.

August 20, 2020: As Item 3 on its agenda, the City’s Planning Commission was expected to discuss the Commission’s new role as the body overseeing the update of the General Plan Circulation Element. However, the meeting was canceled. It may meet again on September 17.

August 19, 2020: The expected third meeting of the Housing Element Update Advisory Committee was canceled.

July 15, 2020: The second meeting of the new Housing Element Update AdvisoryCommittee was held in the City Council Chambers, and again broadcast on NBTV and live streamed on the City website.

    • The Chair appointed two additional subcommittees of three members each to privately look into and report back regarding: (1) housing “opportunity site” identification in the West Newport Mesa area (north of Hoag Hospital); and (2) community outreach.

July 1, 2020: The first meeting of the new Housing Element Update Advisory Committee, originally planned for March 25, has finally held in the City Council Chambers, broadcast on NBTV and live streamed on the City website. Those interested could phone in comments during or observe and comment from the Community Room adjacent to Council Chambers

    • The Chair appointed subcommittees of three members each which will meet privately to look into and then report back regarding: (1) housing “opportunity site” identification, apparently in the Airport Area; and (2) affordable housing options.

June 3, 2020: The first meeting of the new Housing Element Update Advisory Committee was once again postponed, this time to a possible date of July 1.

May 6, 2020: The first meeting of the new Housing Element Update Advisory Committee was expected, but again postponed, with June 3 indicated as the new date.

April 14, 2020: The City Council approved a contract with Kimley Horn as the primary consultant for the Housing Element update. Kimley Horn will subcontract with Urban Crossroads and LSA (former Council member Tony Petros) on traffic issues.

March 25, 2020: First meeting of the new Housing Element Update Advisory Committee was scheduled for this date. Topics were expected to include: introduction, mission and purpose of the committee, establish subcommittee(s), process to identify potential housing opportunity sites, consultant proposal review — but the meeting was postponed due to coronavirus concerns.

March 24, 2024: The City Council to “reviewed” staff’s annual progress report to state on current General Plan. It was on the “consent calendar” and approved without comment.

March 5, 2020: The SCAG Regional Council voted to confirm the 6th cycle RHNA allocations made at its November 7, 2019, meeting, including the 4,832 units to Newport Beach.  Agenda packet here.

    • An appeal process, most likely running through May 25, was also decided upon (see Items 1 and 2).
    • The Regional Council also discussed the status of its Connect SoCal Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy, which is related to the RHNA allocations (see Items 10 and 11).
    • The meeting is archived on SCAG-TV.

March 5, 2020: The Planning Commission reviewed the City’s Annual Progress Report to the state on the status of the current General Plan. The City Council will review the same report on March 24.

February 25, 2020: As Item 6 on its agenda, the City Council made minor changes to the qualifications for membership on the new Housing Element Update Advisory Committee  and ratified the Mayor’s appointments to those positions.

February 20, 2020: Deadline for proposals from firms interested in assisting with the preparation of revisions to the Housing, Circulation and Land Use Elements. Reportedly just one proposal was received, from Kimley Horn. The new Housing Element Update Advisory Committee is supposed to make a recommendation about it to the City Council. But per the Action Plan posted by the Community Development Department, the proposal will be reviewed by three members of the existing Steering Committee.

January 31, 2020: City creates a 2020 Housing Action Plan webpage.

January 28, 2020: At the City Council meeting, SPON submitted a resolution protesting the recent announcement that Newport Beach needs to plan to add 4,832 new housing units by 2029, and suggesting ways to deal with it.  439 Newport Beach residents, as well as 94 residents from neighboring cities, added their names and comments to the SPON resolution.  You may see the resolution in its final form here.

Thank you to all who signed and commented!

January 25, 2020: The City received a total of 45 applications to serve on the new Housing Element Update Advisory Committee. The applications will be screened by a committee consisting of Mayor O’Neill, Mayor Pro Tem Avery and Council member Brenner, with Mayor O’Neill ultimately recommending nine people for appointment, most likely at the February 11 City Council meeting.

January 23, 2020:  In connection with the search for a consultant to assist with preparing revisions to the Housing, Circulation and Land Use Elements, the City received no bids in response to the Request for Proposals posted on December 20, 2019, and extended the deadline to February 20.

January 18, 2020: The Notice of Vacancy announcing the opportunity to serve on the new Housing Element Update Advisory Committee was published in the classified section of the Daily Pilot. This triggered the start of a very short one-week window in which to submit applications.

January 14, 2020: The City Council held a study session to review a staff-recommended “Housing Action Plan” to address the expected state requirement to add 4,832 units to the General Plan for potential construction by October 2029.

  • At its evening session, the Council adopted Resolution No. 2020-06, dissolving the Steering Committee and creating a new Housing Element Update Advisory Committee consisting of nine citizen members with expertise in various areas and one non-voting Council member.
  • The new committee is expected to find locations for the 4,832 units by late July or early August, at which time the City can begin preparation of an Environmental Impact Report investigating the change’s effects.
  • The Council did not endorse a staff proposal to amend the Greenlight City Charter provision to exempt this and future Housing Element Updates from the voter-approval requirement.
  • In addition, to creating the new committee, the City promises to work with others to protest the state mandate and to seek a 2-year delay in the due date for the new Housing Element.

December 20, 2019: City staff posts a Request for Proposals for a consultant to assist with preparing revisions to the Housing, Circulation and Land Use Elements of the General Plan. Proposals are due by January 17, 2020.

December 12, 2019: The last of seven “Listen & Learn” Workshops was held in City Council District 1 at Marina Park (1600 W. Balboa Boulevard)..

December 11, 2019: The sixth of seven “Listen & Learn” Workshops was held in City Council District 4 at the Bonita Creek Community Room (3010 La Vida). Only about 4 residents attended.

December 4, 2019: The General Plan Update Steering Committee meeting met in the Council Chambers at 100 Civic Center Drive. In view of the large newly-imposed state housing requirements and new legislation, they recommended sending the process back to the City Council for further direction. City staff said they would be proposing a Regional Housing Needs Assessment “action plan” to the Council on January 14.

December 3, 2019: The fifth of seven “Listen & Learn” Workshops was held in City Council District 7 at the Central Library Friends Room (1000 Avocado Avenue). About 13 residents attended.

November 21. 2019: The fourth of seven “Listen & Learn” Workshops was held in City Council District 6 at the OASIS Senior Center (801 Narcissus Avenue). This was reportedly the best attended of the series with about 30 attendees as a result of promotion by the Corona del Mar Residents Association.

November 20. 2019: The third of seven “Listen & Learn” Workshops was held in City Council District 7 at the Newport Coast Community Center (6401 San Joaquin Hills Rd.).

November 14. 2019: The second of seven “Listen & Learn” Workshops was held for City Council District 3, but outside the district, at the Back Bay Science Center (600 Shellmaker Road – off Back Bay Drive – north of Newport Dunes).

November 12. 2019: The first of seven “Listen & Learn” Workshops was held in City Council District 2 at the 16th Street Recreation Center (870 W. 16th St — in West Newport Mesa).

November 7, 2019: The Southern California Association of Governments, a six-county body operating per state law, assigned Newport Beach the task of updating its General Plan, by October 2021, to accommodate the potential construction of 4,832 new housing units by October 2029 — the City’s so-call Regional Housing Needs Assessment allocation (see SCAG minutes and video).

November 6, 2019: The General Plan Update Steering Committee meeting met in the Council Chambers at 100 Civic Center Drive.

  • Agenda here
    • The topics were:
      • Discussion of October 26 Launch Event and engagement activities
      • Planning for Listen & Learn workshops to be held in each Council district in November and December.
      • Discussion of timeline and drafting request for proposals for updating Housing Element by 2021.

October 26, 2019:  The consultant arranged a 4-hour community-wide launch event, held in the Civic Center Community Room and adjacent outdoor areas Civic Green (100 Civic Center Drive). A variety of booths represented City departments and community organizations. The event was announced on the new GPU website and on the following flyer:

Flyer for October 26 GPU Launch Event

Flyer for October 26 GPU Launch Event

    • The stated purpose of the event was to attract interest from persons who would not normally express views on matters like the General Plan.
    • Despite the offer of 200 free hamburgers, attendance seemed sparse.
  • October 16, 2019: General Plan Update Steering Committee meeting
    • See agenda here
      • The Committee reviewed the consultant’s plans for the Listen & Learn “Community Fair” scheduled for October 26 (the “Launch Event”).
      • They also reviewed the new General Plan Update website and heard a brief presentation about the difference between General Plan policies vs. Zoning Code regulations, with a conclusion that comments received during the Listen & Learn process that did not fit easily into the “General Plan” category would not be rejected.
  • October 11, 2019:  launch of interactive GPU website.
  • September 25, 2019: General Plan Update Steering Committee meeting
    • See agenda here
      • The committee approved plans for an interactive GPU website and for the October 26 launch event at City Hall.
      • They also heard a presentation about the upcoming state-mandated Regional Housing Needs Assessment numbers which the City will need to accommodate in a revised General Plan.
  • September 12: After a two-month hiatus, the General Plan Update Steering Committee met at Marina Park (see agenda).
    • In preparation for the meeting, SPON summarized the key take-aways from its own General Plan Update Workshops, held Nov. 2017 through Jan. 2019, and based on those made a series of recommendations to the Committee. See them here:
    • The Committee the approved the general concept of the community outreach plan proposed by the consultant, including an October 26 “launch” event on the Civic Green at City Hall.
    • It also selected “Newport, Together.” as the theme or slogan for the outreach from among three suggested by the consultant.
  • August 1, 2019: Contract C-8180-1 with Kearns & West, effective June 25 and signed by them on June 11, was finally signed by Mayor Dixon.
  • July 2019:  Originally stated as the launch date for the consultant-facilitated “Listen and Learn” Tour, the schedule appears to have slipped.
  • June 25, 2019:  City Council approved the contract with Kearns & West as Item 9 on their consent calendar (which to say, without comment).
  • May 29, 2019:  The Steering Committee reviewed Kearns & West‘s cost proposal and a very slightly revised scope of services.  They voted unanimously to recommend approval of the contract to the City Council.
  • May 15, 2019:  The Steering Committee  publicly interviewed three of the five consultants who expressed interest in working on the “Listen and Learn” (see April 26 and May 1, below).  They were happily surprised by Kearns & West and agreed unanimously to recommend them to the City Council, pending the opening of their cost proposal and a possible refinement of their scope of work.
  • May 1, 2019: The Steering Committee met in the Council Chambers to review the five responses received to the RFP.  The overall sentiment was one of disappointment regarding the meagerness of the responses.  However, the committee decided to interview at least two of the applicants on May 15, with no commitment to hire any.
  • April 26, 2019: 11:00 a.m. was the deadline for consultants to submit proposals in response to the RFP.  By that deadline, 45 firms had reviewed the RFP, but only five proposals were submitted in response.
  • April 15, 2019:  City staff posted the questions and their responses to them.
  • April 8, 2019:  Due date for potential consultants to submit questions they may have about the RFP.
  • April 3, 2019: The Steering Committee met in the Council Chambers to hear staff reports on the City’s traffic model and the state requirements relevant to the Housing and other elements of the General Plan. The PowerPoint presentations have been posted on the City’s General Plan Update page, and a video of the meeting should be available here.
  • March 26, 2019:  As Item 14 on its agenda, the City Council received the Planning Commission’s recommendation regarding staff’s annual report on the status of current General Plan’s Implementation Program and the City’s progress in meeting the Housing Element’s goals and approved submitting the reports to the state regulators.
  • March 25, 2019:  City staff posts Request for Proposals (RFP) for consultant to conduct the “Listen and Learn” phase of the General Plan Update process.
  • March 20, 2019:  The GPU Steering Committee held its third meeting, this time in the City Council Chambers (agenda here).  The Committee, for the first time with all seven citizen members appointed, completed its revisions to the RFP for an outside consultant to manage the “listen and learn” phase of the GPU process, only. The group is also heard a presentation about the Harbor Commission’s visioning process, as well as a presentation from staff about updates to the City’s website.
  • March 12, 2019:  The Council approved the Mayor’s selection of two additional community members to serve on the GPU Steering Committee. The new members are Jim Carlson, an architect, and Catherine O’Hara, a former city planner and currently a college counselor.
  • March 7, 2019:  As Item 4 on its agenda, the Planning Commission heard staff’s annual report on the status of current General Plan’s Implementation Program and the City’s progress in meeting the Housing Element’s goals, and recommended the City Council direct staff to submit the report to the state.
  • March 6, 2019.:  The GPU Steering Committee held its second meeting in the Friends Room at the Central Library (agenda here).  The committee recommended changes to staff’s revised RFP for an outside consultant to manage the “listen and learn” phase of the GPU process, only. The committee also discussed the merits of appointing the larger citizens General Plan Advisory Committee before the “listen and learn” ends, and decided to revisit that question later in the year.
  • March 6, 2019 @ noon:  Was the deadline to submit applications for appointment as one of the two additional citizen members being added to the GPU Steering Committee. Three new applications were received and added to the 34 previously submitted (but not appointed).
  • February 27, 2019:   The City Clerk posted a notice of the two new citizen opportunities to serve on the Steering Committee, and published the notice in the classified section of the Daily Pilot.  To be considered, applications must be submitted by noon on Wednesday, March 6, 2019.
  • February 26, 2019:  The City Council voted to adopt a new resolution increasing the size of the GPU Steering Committee to seven members (see agenda Item 14).
    • The Mayor, in consultation with the ad hoc nominations committee (consisting of Council members O’Neill and Brenner), will select two new names from among the new and old applications received.
    • Those selections will likely be announced and confirmed at the Council’s March 12 meeting.
  • February 20, 2019:  The GPU Steering Committee held its inaugural meeting in the Civic Center Community Room (see agenda here). Although the committee was expected to review a Request for Proposals for a single consultant to manage the entire General Plan Update process, the committee told staff to “bifurcate” the process and prepare an RFP to solicit a consultant for the public outreach (“listen and learn”) phase only.  A separate RFP for a consultant to manage the actual General Plan update would come after that.
  • February 13, 2019:  City staff conducted an hour-long public outreach event at Marina Park.  Per the flyer and announcement, this was to have been the Steering Committee’s inaugural meeting, intended to familiarize the committee and public with the General Plan and seek input on the Request of Proposals for an outside consultant to lead the Update effort. Although all five newly-appointed Steering Committee members were present in the audience to hear the staff presentation, they did not run or participate in the meeting, supposedly because they had not been sworn into office. It also appears staff had forgotten to prepare and post in advance an agenda, as California’s Brown Act requires them to do before a group like this can meet.
  • February 12, 2019:  As agenda Item XIII, the Council received the Mayor’s choice of five appointees to the Steering Committee — Nancy Gardner (Chair), Ed Selich, Debbie Stevens, Larry Tucker and Paul Watkins. The full Council (with Duffield absent) unanimously “confirmed” the selections, although on a motion by Council member Joy Brenner it also voted to bring back a resolution expanding the number of members from five to seven, with the remaining two to be appointed at a future meeting.
    • The names were drawn from among some 39 applicants volunteering to serve on the committee.
    • SPON is concerned about these selections because, despite their long histories of service to the City, all the designees, with the exception of Debbie Stevens, were on the review committee (“LUEAAC“) that brought us Measure Y — the ill-fated previous attempt to update the General Plan, rejected by 69.2% of voters in 2014 — with Selich having been the chair of that committee.
    • Two of the designees — Ed Selich and Larry Tucker — were also strong supporters of the proposal to amend the General Plan to make way for the Museum House in Newport Center/Fashion Island (whose approval was overturned in response to a public referendum petition in 2016).
  • February 2, 2019:  At its annual planning session, the Council was told the GPU could cost as much as $2.5 million dollars.  Staff recommended allocating $1.5 million in the fiscal year 2019-2020 Capital Improvement Program budget, with an expectation another $1 million might need to be added in 2020-2021.
  • January 30, 2019:  Noon was the deadline to apply to be on five-member citizens Steering Committee which will be developing a Request For Proposals for an outside consultant, recommending who to hire and overseeing the “Listen and Learn” phase of the City’s General Plan Update, expected to last through early 2020.  The Council will then dissolve the Steering Committee and appoint a larger General Plan Advisory Committee to review draft revisions to the General Plan.
    • See the City Clerk’s website for the vacancy notice and the Steering Committee application form
    • To submit an application online, save the completed PDF form on your computer or device and send it back to the City Clerk as an email attachment to: cityclerk@newportbeachca.gov
    • As explained in more detail below under “Recent Events” for January 22, the five successful applicants will be privately selected by Mayor Diane Dixon after consultation with a screening committee consisting of herself, Mayor Pro Tem Will O’Neill and Council member Joy Brenner.
  • January 23, 2019:  Applications invited to serve on GPU citizens Steering Committee.  The deadline to apply is noon on January 30.
  • January 22, 2019:  As Item 5 on its consent calendar, Council adopted Resolution No. 2019-7 formally initiating the General Plan Update and defining and calling for the creation of a year-long, five member citizens Steering Committee, with the City Clerk then soliciting applications (see video).
    • According to the proposed resolution, the Mayor, after privately consulting with Mayor Pro Tem Will O’Neill and Council member Joy Brenner (whose names were announced at the start of the Study Session under “Clarification of Items on the Consent Calendar”), will privately select the five citizen members from among the applicants.
    • The Mayor will also be on the Steering Committee, but as a non-voting member.
    • The proposed selection process is quite different from the normal one described in City Council Policy A-2 for situations in which a nominations committee is convened .  Under that policy, the Council’s nominating committee would present to the Council as a whole at least two names per opening, from among which, at a subsequent meeting, all Council members, equally, would vote, with persons being selected out of that pool when, and only when, a majority vote for them.
    • The Steering Committee will be subject to California’s Brown Act, which means, as with the Council, all of the discussion between members and any direction it gives to staff is supposed to occur at noticed meetings open to the public and at which the public is given opportunities to comment before any action is taken.

January 12, 2019:  A SPON GPAC workshop was held at the Santa Ana Heights Fire Station.  It was the group’s ninth (and for the moment, final) meeting.  Guest speaker. Kevin K. Johnson, an environmental lawyer from San Diego, discussed the California Environmental Quality Act and provided information on how to read and more effectively comment on Environmental Impact Reports.  There was no PowerPoint, but participants were provided with a number of handouts (copied below) as well as a set of excerpts from the Planning and Conservation League’s very helpful Community Guide to CEQA, a roughly 100 page publication which can be purchased for $35 by contacting the PCL through their website at the previous link.  They also have some free examples of ways to create effective and ineffective comments on CEQA documents.

January 8, 2019:  The City Council held a 5:00 p.m. study session (see video) at which the Community Development Department presented its proposal for a General Plan Update, including a draft Request for Proposals for a consultant to assist with the process (see staff report and PowerPoint).  The proposal was similar to the one presented (and rejected by the Council) at the November 14, 2017, study session (see below).  The Council is expected to create a five-member citizens committee will help develop a Request For Proposals for a consultant and recommend who to hire. The consultant will then facilitate a roughly year long “Listen and Learn Tour” collecting input from the community. See “Upcoming” (above) for the expected sequence of events over the next few weeks (per the PowerPoint and Council/staff discussion)

August 18, 2018: The eighth meeting of SPON’s independent General Plan Update Advisory Committee was held at the Santa Ana Heights Fire Station.  It continued the guest speakers series, with a presentation by a planning principal Laura Stetson from MIG, the private company that conducted the public outreach/community visioning portion of our City’s current General Plan in 2001-2002 (see Item 18, April 10, 2001, City Council meeting). Ms. Stetson shared her thoughts on “Data-driven General Plans,” including how to ensure the community vision expressed in a city’s general plan is actually implemented.  She also provided many detailed insights into the current Newport Beach General Plan. Her PowerPoint includes links to a number of resources where useful planning data can be found.  She mentioned an older website of Model General Plans for examples of good plans, as well as the more recent online-only Hayward 2040 General Plan (which she believes to exemplify the wave of the future, at least in terms of presentation).

June 16, 2018:  The seventh SPON GPAC meeting, held at the Santa Ana Heights Fire Station, continued the recent guest speakers series. Matt Foulkes, the City of Fullerton’s Community Planning Manager, spoke about the Fullerton General Plan, also known as “the Fullerton Vision,” which modified the “standard” layout of a General Plan by focusing on the four key pillars of the community: the built environment, the economy, the community, and the natural environment.

April 14, 2018:  The sixth SPON GPAC meeting, held at the Santa Ana Heights Fire Station, featured  Pete Peterson, Dean of the Pepperdine University School of Public Policy, and Jennifer Lilley, an urban and regional planner working for the City of Brea, who provided insights on how to better engage government officials and drive change (rather than just respond to it).

March 31, 2018: The fifth SPON GPAC meeting, held at the Santa Ana Heights Fire Station, inaugurated a planned guest speakers series.  Chris Carter, GIS manager for the City of Anaheim, gave an fascinating talk on the push for cities to provide “open data” and the difficulties of making that data engaging and useful for the general public.

March 27, 2018: As Item 11 on its Current Business agenda, the City Council authorized submitting to state agencies, without any changes or corrections, City staff’s Annual Status Report (Planning Activity PA2007-195) on the state of the City’s General Plan Implementation Program and its progress on the Housing Element goals.  Some of SPON’s thoughts posted preceding that meeting are preserved here:

  • SPON, and its GPAC Working Group, feel there are multiple problems with the City’s current General Plan and with its implementation since its adoption in 2006.
  • Although the City Council rarely shows much interest in this annual item, it is an opportunity for the public to show they’re interested, watching and engaged — including asking questions about whether a rash of bad planning decisions (Banning Ranch, AutoNation, 150 Newport Center and Museum House, to name a few) has been the result of a bad plan or bad execution of it.
  • Being a “Current Business” item means that not only will the public be allowed to offer their comments, but the Council will be invited to discuss the report, and the public’s comments on it, among themselves (although they have no requirement to do so).
  • This year’s nearly identical report to the Planning Commission is here.  The Commission showed little interest in it, but the one suggestion they offered appears to have been ignored by City staff.  It was to mention under the report on progress made in 2017 on Implementation Program 1.2 (keeping the General Plan up to date) that the City had at least started considering the need for a General Plan update.
  • Last year’s report to the City Council is here (Note that it is mostly the same as this year’s report, even though there have been substantial changes in the state requirements — one of many things not mentioned in the report.  In particular, although the report repeatedly states it is being submitted pursuant to California Government Code Section 65400, that section was extensively revised effective January 1, 2018, and the report about to be submitted appears to be missing the information newly required by subsections C through I.  In addition, the California Office of Planning and Research issued entirely new General Plan Guidelines in 2017, and there is no evidence our General Plan has been compared against the new guidelines, even though Imp 1.3 requires such disclosure).
  • Regarding the items it’s important to comment on, including the City’s failure to provide clear information on the development capacity remaining under the existing General Plan limits, and an even more serious problem with the published development limits not correctly representing the development that has been approved, and thus short-circuiting what the public thought were our Greenlight protections, SPON has prepared some background information and some possible talking points.
  • You may also find helpful the questions about the City’s execution of the Implementation Program that SPON submitted to the Community Development Department in advance of its February 26 “Open House & Community Forum,” which remain unanswered — and the additional public comments submitted when this item was before the Planning Commission on March 8.

March 8, 2018: City staff’s Annual Status Report on the state of the General Plan was presented to the Planning Commission as Item 8 on their agenda.  The Commission showed little interest in it, and recommended passing it on to the City Council with no suggestions for changes or actions to be taken as a result of it.  Several members of the public attempted to comment on the report, and its shortcomings.  They were treated shabbily.

February 26, 2018: SPON submitted to City staff a letter raising questions about the City’s compliance with the General Plan Implementation Program(s) adopted in 2006.  SPON hoped some of those questions could be answered at the Community Development Department’s first ever “Open House & Community Forum” on February 26, but the forum’s format did not allow for that.  A written follow-up was promised, but none has been received.

February 24, 2018: The fourth SPON GPAC meeting was held in the Santa Ana Heights Fire Station training room. The main segment  focused on the promises made in the existing General Plan and the extent to which they have been met, or not, with emphasis on City staff’s assessment of that as seen in their Annual Status Report to the state.

  • The meeting materials included the SPON GPAC agenda and a link to City staff’s 2016 Annual Report (as presented to the Council on March 28, 2017).  It includes a copy of the Implementation Program followed by the status of each task.  A new report for calendar year 2017 will be presented to the Planning Commission on March 8, and to the City Council on March 27.
  • Those who missed the meeting may view the 2/24/2018 SPON GPAC presentation here (although it may be hard to follow without the words).

February 13, 2018: As consent calendar Item 7, the City Council was expected to adopt a resolution confirming a “go slow” approach to the General Plan Update, with 2018 being largely devoted to listening and educating, with any actual update starting only after that is completed.  Instead, the Council unexpectedly changed direction, with Council member Scott Peotter encouraging staff to prepare an alternative resolution (available only to the public attending in person) putting off the start of the staff-facilitated “listen and learn” workshops, that it had been agreed should precede a GPU, until 2019.  As a result of Resolution No. 2018-7, no staff activity at all on the GPU is expected during calendar year 2018.

February 8, 2018 – CANCELLED: The Planning Commission was expected to hold a meeting (agenda here) devoted entirely (because of postponement of the night’s two hearing items) to a discussion of property development standards (including what to do about “mansionization”) in the Cliff Haven area (the blufftop neighborhood between Newport Harbor High and PCH).  Despite having received numerous messages of interest, City staff announced (just a few hours before it was scheduled to begin) that the February 8 Planning Commission meeting would not be held. Supposedly, staff decided not to address Cliff Haven separately, but to include it in a broader investigation of similar concerns citywide, in some forum yet to be determined (but apparently not involving the Planning Commission).

January 29, 2018:  At a special Monday evening annual Planning Session held at Marina Park, after receiving a PowerPoint on the subject, the City Council discussed if and when to embark on a General Plan Update.  The Council’s direction (modified slightly on February 13) appeared to be for staff to embark soon on a program of listening to the public (“with an educational component”), but not hire consultants and launch a full-blown update until state housing requirements for the near future are better understood.

January 13, 2018: A capacity crowd met at the Santa Ana Heights Fire Station for the third meeting of SPON’s independent citizens GPAC group.  Through its GPAC working group SPON hopes to create an informed  citizenry to participate in and influence the General Plan Update outcome, as well as to produce citizen-driven alternatives for conduct of the update process. At this third meeting the participating citizens pored over maps of the city, identifying areas where current General Plan policies appear to be working, and identifying areas where improvement is needed.

December 2, 2017:   SPON’s independent citizens GPAC group held its second meeting at the Santa Ana Heights Fire Station from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.  The group generally agreed that a update to the General Plan is needed, and will assist SPON in formulating a letter to the City to that effect. The resulting letter was approved by the SPON Board and sent to the City on December 11.

November 18, 2017:  As was apparent from Measure Y, SPON anticipates that City staff and Council may have a vision and goals for the future of the City that diverge markedly from the views held by a majority of residents, and even business owners.  As a result, SPON convened a meeting of interested citizens, calling themselves the SPON GPAC, to review what happened on November 14 and assess interest in creating an independent, truly citizens advisory panel to monitor developments and attempt to keep the City’s process on a track residents approve of.  Such true independent citizens’ oversight was lacking from previous GPU efforts in Newport Beach.  The response was a enthusiastic, and a second meeting will be held on Saturday, December 2.

November 14, 2017: Based on the City’s announcement, formal initiation of a General Plan update process was expected to come at the November 14, 2017, City Council meeting. A discussion of staff’s update proposal was expected at an afternoon public “study session” (see Item SS3, PowerPoint and video) followed by action at the regular evening meeting (Item 18).  A staff team leading the effort was also announced.  It was to consist of Community Development Director Seimone Jurjis, former Principal Planner and newly-appointed Deputy Director Jim Campbell and Associate Planner Ben Zdeba, and in addition to outside consultants, the larger plan involved the appointment of a Steering Committee (to consist of Council members O’Neill and Herdman and former Council member Nancy Gardner) and a citizens advisory committee (“GPAC”) chaired by Ms. Gardner and consisting of 4 Commissioners and up to 25 community members (it might be noted that it is unusual for City staff to specify who the City Council should appoint).

Largely rejecting staff’s recommendations, the Council instead leaned toward a slower and more deliberate evaluation of the current situation before launching into a major and costly update process.  That alternative approach might include creation of a “Blue Ribbon Committee” to consider the need for an update and explore options for conducting it, but no final decisions were made on November 14.  Staff’s initial suggestion for the alternate exploratory committee was for one consisting of 10 members:  a resident or business owner from each of the City’s seven Council districts, plus a member of a board or commission plus two Council members.  Although it was originally thought a variation of that alternative might be coming back for consideration by the Council as early as November 28, it now looks like that will not be happening until next year.

June 13, 2017: Funding for the update ($1 million in the first year, with at least another $1 million expected in later years) was allocated, without much discussion or direction, in the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2017.

May 18, 2017: At the Corona del Mar Residents Association‘s May 18, 2017, meeting, the City’s then Community Development Director, Kimberly Brandt, and then Deputy Director, Brenda Wisneski, gave a presentation entitled “Local Coastal Plan Amendments (Shoreline Properties) & future General Plan Update Project” (see the agenda). As part of the latter presentation, they distributed a flyer describing their vision of the GPU project. Although most of this has not yet been approved by the City Council, the flyer indicates staff sees the present calendar year being used to select an outside consultant and appoint an Advisory Committee. Work on actually revising the General Plan would begin in January 2018, with adoption expected in March or April 2020. Although funding for Year 1 was subsequently approved, Ms. Brandt retired on July 28, and Ms. Wisneski left to accept a job in another city at the end of September, which may delay the plans as new staff is put in place. As of late September, the new Community Development Director, Seimone Jurjis (former Deputy Director overseeing the Building Division), has indicated a Request for Proposals for consultants is being prepared, but will be submitted to the City Council for review and approval before actually being posted.

February 16, 2017:  Incoming Mayor Kevin Muldoon announced a General Plan Update as a major priority for the coming year in his speech at Speak Up Newport’s 36th annual Mayor’s Dinner (City video here).

February 14, 2017: City Manager Dave Kiff described a proposal for a General Plan Update in a PowerPoint slide presented at a Council study session regarding the upcoming budget.

News Coverage

City Document Links

  • A set of City webpages regarding the General Plan Update has been posted and should be consulted for the City’s latest official news about the process.
  • Existing Newport Beach General Plan (note: although originally adopted in 2006, and subsequently amended as indicated in these files, the land use allocations shown on the maps and in the land use tables may have been altered by transfers and conversions not reflected in these documents,  As an example, one is not likely to find authorization for a PIMCO tower or Irvine Company headquarters building in it.)
  • The Environmental Impact Report prepared in connection with the 2006 update.  See particularly “Volume 1A,” which is the Final EIR which contains tables showing how the “EIR project” was scaled down during the hearings before the Planning Commission and City Council.  Additionally, although not available online, the reference shelves of the Newport Beach Central Library include a binder of Technical Background Studies that supported the 2006 General Plan.  The City is also known to have agendas, minutes and meeting materials from the hearings held during development of the 2006 General Plan, but aside from those before the Planning Commission and City Council they have not been made accessible online.
  • City Manager’s February 2017 PowerPoint slide requesting $1 million budget allocation for first year of update (approved with overall budget in June)
  • May 2017 Community Development Department flyer describing City staff’s vision for possible update

Additional documents divulged in response to a September 2017 Public Records Act request:

Earlier Newport Beach General Plan documents

Newport Beach has had a General Plan (originally called a “Master Plan”) since at least 1958, with major revisions in 1973/4, 1988 and 2006.  At least the last three of these led to extensive revisions to the detailed Zoning Code regulations which implement the General Plan (the Zoning Code is currently Title 20 of the Municipal Code),

In parallel, but separate from this, and responding to  a separate state mandate, Newport Beach has a Coastal Land Use Plan additionally controlling development in the roughly half of the City in the Coastal Zone.  This was first adopted by Council Resolution 82-25 in 1982.  The CLUP underwent major revisions in 2005 (with Resolution 2005-64) and again in 2009 (with Resolution 2009-53).  Only in January 2017 did the City receive certification of the Implementation Plan portion of the Local Coastal Program, which now exists as Title 21 of the Municipal Code. Title 21 largely mirrors the Zoning Code (Title 20), but gives the City the authority to issue most Coastal Development Permits.

  • Newport Beach appears to have first contracted with a consultant to develop a “Master Plan” in April 1956 (Resolution 4486)
  • That plan, addressing  Land Use, Streets and Highways, and Parks and Recreation, was adopted by Resolution 4728 at the City Council’s January 13, 1958, meeting (see minutes).   However, the plan itself does not appear to have been preserved.
  • In 1969 the City Council endorsed a “Newport Tomorrow” visioning process, involving a consultant, a steering committee and “84 public spirited citizens.”  In 10 months, the process generated a report used as the vision for the City’s first General Plan in the modern sense mandated by the state legislature.  The Newport Beach Central Library has preserved a copy in its reference/historical collection, and we have posted a scanned copy (here) for those interested in reading it.  Responding to new state requirements for more formal, comprehensive planning, the City Council officially received the Newport Tomorrow report with Resolution 7172 on April 13, 1970, and although generally accepting it as the basis for general plan, rejected at least four specific proposals:  (1) an annexation policy, (2) a high-rise development policy, (3) a design review board, and (4) creation of a body to pursue “townscape planning goals.”
    • The General Plan resulting from the Newport Tomorrow effort was adopted in pieces between 1973 and 1974.  For example, the Land Use Element was adopted by Resolution 7968 (May 29, 1973) while the Circulation Element was adopted by Resolution 8206 (March 11, 1974).  Unfortunately, the resolutions reference documents “on file in the City Clerk’s office,” which may or may not have been preserved for posterity.
    • The 1973 Land Use Element triggered a comprehensive update of the Zoning Code, the results of which, including the new code, can be seen in Ordinance No. 1657, adopted in 1976.
  • The next major revision of the General Plan came in 1988, with adoption of a new Land Use Element with Resolution 88-100 and a new Circulation Element with Resolution 88-101.  In this case, the full documents have been posted with the resolutions, and can be viewed at these links.
    • As described in Resolution 88-100, the 1988 update process, which began in February 1987 and was completed on October 24, 1988, does not seem to have involved “visioning.”  Instead, staff appears to have prepared the updates over a period of about a year, after which they were vetted with stakeholder groups by a small committee of Council members, followed by hearings before the Planning Commission and City Council.
    • The new Land Use Element defined, described allowable development in, and set limits for each of a large number of “statistical areas” — which became the conceptual basis for controlling future growth in the citizens’ Greenlight initiative of 2000, adopting City Charter Section 423.  As detailed in Resolution 2000-98, Greenlight (“Measure S”) was adopted by a 63% margin despite vigorous opposition from development interests, which pushed an opposing “Measure T” (that lost by an equally large margin).
    • The revised Zoning Code that resulted from the 1988 update was adopted by Ordinance No. 97-9 and can be seen at that link.
  • The current General Plan followed on the heels of Greenlight.
    • A new “visioning” process, officially lasting 10 months, started with the production by an outside consultant, in November 2001, of the booklet “Newport Beach: current conditions, future choices: step up to the future!” (see scanned copy on Dropbox) and culminated in a November 16, 2002, “Visioning Summit” as detailed in the consultant’s report to Council (see January 28, 2003, Study Session Item SS2).
    • The 2000-2006 GPU process involved a General Plan Update Committee (“GPUC,” initially created by Resolution 2000-45, with several later revisions)  interposed between the Council and a larger citizens General Plan Advisory Committee (“GPAC,” created by Resolution 2001-22), very similar to what is currently being proposed, except that the visioning and updating were performed by two different outside consultants.
    • The new draft General Plan was adopted by the City Council with Resolution 2006-76 on July 25, 2006, contingent on voters “giving the Greenlight” to the new development limit tables.  That question was submitted to the County Registrar via Resolution 2006-77, and voted on as “Measure V” the following November 7.  Based, perhaps in part, on the City Attorney’s analysis, it passed by a narrow 53.6% margin (see Resolution 2006-103).
    • The revised Zoning Code that resulted from the 2006 General Plan update was adopted by Ordinance No. 2010-21 and can be seen at that link.  It was accompanied by a Summary of Changes (relative to the prior Zoning Code) prepared by the Planning Division.
  • Several of the General Plan elements have been amended or replaced in subsequent years, resulting in the plan currently presented on-line.
    • While the many changes have been made to the development limits allowed by the Land Use Element (see City’s list of General Plan Amendments), no changes appear to have been made to the underlying Land Use Element text and policies adopted by the Council in 2006.
    • The policy changes proposed as part of the 2013 through 2014 attempt to update the Land Use Element, culminating in Measure Y, seem to have been abandoned when voters, by a 69.2% margin, rejected the changes to development limits that went with them.

Prehistory of General Plans in Newport Beach

In 1923, Newport Beach adopted a cryptic Ordinance No. 247 creating a City Planning Commission, although the group does not appear to have actually been empaneled and functional until May 1926 (per the first minutes, the initial body agreeing to discuss business over dinner at the Newport Harbor Yacht Club shortly before the Monday evening City Council meetings).  As new state laws were adopted, the existing Planning Commission was reaffirmed as the relevant review body in Newport Beach — Ordinance No. 349 (1928) and Ordinance No. 430 (1935) — the latter being in response to the “Planning Act” of 1929, which called for “establishment of official master plans.”

The City’s first master plan in the 1929 sense was duly adopted in January 1936 by Ordinance No. 440, created with the assistance of consultant L. Deming Tilton (a prominent land use planner of the era).  It established land classifications and “districts,” and is essentially equivalent to what would today be called a Zoning Code.  The stated reasons for adopting it were: “(1) to secure for the citizens of the City of Newport Beach the social and economical advantages resulting from an orderly, planned use of Its land resources, (2) to provide a definite, official land-use plan  for the City of Newport Beach and 3) to guide, control and regulate the future growth and development of said City in accordance with said plan.”

A new Zoning Code was adopted at the end of 1950 with Ordinance No. 635.

Non-City Links

  • General Plan Guidelines (2017) : recently revised version of the definitive guide to requirements for General Plan elements from the California State Office of Planning and Research (the agency that oversees General Plans in California)
  • General Plans and Zoning (2007) : a very useful and readable “outsiders” overview of California land use regulation, including General Plans and Zoning Codes, prepared by the California Department of Health Services, specifically for those interested in pursuing healthy living initiatives.
  • Orange County General Plan Resource Directory (2011) : publication from Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks highlighting desirable policies from General Plans in Orange County (and other parts of California).  Includes more general information on General Plans and planning in general, with a focus on creating sustainable communities.
  • Land Use 101 (2015) :  detailed citations to the legal authority (and limitations) of California land use planning, prepared by the  of the San Luis Obispo City Attorney.
  • Land Use and Planning (2010) : useful overview publication from California’s Institute for Local Government.
  • 150 Years of Land Use (A Brief History of Land Use Regulation, 1999) : a private attorney’s view of the tug-of-war between development and regulation in California, and its status circa 2000.
  • General Plan Overview :  FAQ handout about General Plans from the December 2, 2017, SPON GPAC meeting.

Other Helpful Links

SPON letter to City Council urging General Plan Update (December 11, 2017).

Links to videos of comments on 2006 General Plan Update process

  • July 25, 2006 City Council meeting (where the Council voted to approve the GPU as Item 18 and put the Greenlight tables on the ballot as Item 21).
    • Allan Beek speaks at 2:17:50.
    • Dolores Otting supports Allan about the GPU circumventing Greenlight at 2:23:40
    • Larry Porter speaks about the City’s failure to address water and climate change starting at 2:26:50, saying with regard to the EIR, “don’t certify this false document” at 2:31.
    • Elaine Linhoff talks at 2:31:15 about moving housing from Banning Ranch, where it won’t happen, to Mariner’s Mile, where it will.
    • Sandy Genis comments on (with regard the EIR numbers) “that’s magic” at 2:36:55, about the “special qualities of Newport Beach” at 2:37:45, and “why change that?” at 2:38:30.
    • Jan Vandersloot notes his 4 years on GPAC at 2:38:45, that the measure being proposed is a “developer’s wish list” at 2:43:20, and recommends keeping the old plan at 2:43:20.
    • Nancy Gardner (chair of the Council-appointed GPAC) rebuts the other public speakers at 2:43:50, proclaiming the GPU is good because it will add “workforce housing” to the Airport Area.
    • Phil Arst starts at 2:45:40 and returns at 5:06:15 (for Item 21, where he accuses last minute changes to the ballot wording as changing it into a “marketing message” — which the opponents weren’t allowed in their Greenlight II).
    • At 2:47:20 he charges the ballot measure is a violation of the Charter because it claims it will given voter approval to all previous non-voter-approved amendments — but Charter Section 423 requires each amendment to be voted on separately. At 2:48:45 he attributes the purported “reductions” to comparing the projections to “phantom trips” that would never have happened under the existing plan.
  • June 13, 2006 City Council meeting.
    • Phil Arst speaks starting at 3:38:20 and ticks off a litany of problems with it. It assumes a 19th St bridge when there will be none (3:40:50), the measure would arbitrarily increase the allowable floor area ratio in CdM (possibly allowing the present mansionization?, 3:41:20), it adds sloped parts of a lot to the “buildable area” (even though it’s not buildable) thereby increasing the development allowed (3:42:50), it introduces new, out-of-character extremely dense housing categories for no apparent reason (3:43:15) and it is a fatally flawed EIR (3:44:10).
  • May 9, 2006 City Council meeting.
    • Jan Vandersloot comes to the podium at 3:23:30 to comment on Item 17, despite Mayor Don Webb giving him condescending looks.
    • Jan argues there is no way the proposal to add mixed use housing to the harbor side of Mariner’s Mile could decrease traffic, and their action to allow it will be completely contrary to what the residents of Newport Heights want.
    • At 3:23:30, Councilman Rosansky agrees with Jan, saying the GPU will make Newport Beach like the housing being added in Costa Mesa, and offers an amendment to remove the housing. He can’t get a second, but warns Webb his constituents will be mad.
    • Jan is allowed a rejoinder at 3:28:45, accusing the analysis of the GPU to be based on “sleight of hand,” and at 3:29:40 that if they do this, they “will have a fight.”

Koll Center Residences

Koll Center Residences . . . as of October 2019
Project being redesigned; not expected to return to Planning Commission for a year

Latest News:  After determining that four Planning Commissioners had financial conflicts of interest that would normally prohibit them from taking part in discussions about this project, a little-known provision of state law was used whereby at their September 13 meeting the four “drew lots” to select one to join the three unconflicted Commissioners in order to have a quorum available to hear the Koll Center Residences proposal. The long-awaited Study Session (which had started on January 18, 2018), was then re-scheduled for November 8 at 5:00 p.m.   — however, even that plan had to be cancelled due to the resignation on September 25 of Planning Commission Secretary Bill Dunlap (one of the four members needed to hear the Koll application). With a new Commissioner having been appointed, the study session was held on January 31.  However, given community pushback, the owners appear to have decided to completely redesign the project. Based on City staff comments made at the October 3 Planning Commission meeting, a new application that will require a new EIR is expected, so the matter is not expected to return to the Commission for at least a year (see “Recent Events,” below).

Project Overview:  The Koll Center Residences is a proposal to add 260 luxury condominium residences in three 160 foot tall towers in what is now the surface parking lot of an office campus near the corner of Jamboree and Birch in the Airport Area.  See the city web page devoted to this project for further details and links to additional documents.  The towers are described on that page, and in the EIR, as “13 stories” but they appear to be 13 stories of residential on top of two of above-ground parking, for a total of 15.

Why We Are Watching:  This project raises multiple issues about height, density, and compatibility with neighboring uses, including the viability of the current General Plan’s vision for adding residential uses to the Airport Area, and whether it is being properly implemented.  SPON feels the project is out of character with the office park environment in which it is being proposed, and that any further consideration of it should be deferred until the pending General Plan Update has been completed — hopefully providing a clearer and better thought out vision for the future of the Airport Area.


  • A new application for a redesigned project, requiring a new EIR, is expected, but has not yet been submitted. As a result, it is likely it will be at least a year before  the matter returns to the Planning Commission for them to make a recommendation to the City Council.
  • The park component of the project will likely need to go to the Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission for their advice to the Council.  Again, a date for that is not yet known.
  • If the Newport Planning Commission recommends approval, the project will go to the County’s Airport Land Use Commission for their finding of its consistency or inconsistency with airport planning.
  • The final decision on the project will lie with the City Council.

Recent Events:

October 3, 2019:  In a status update to the Planning Commission, Deputy Community Development Director Jim Campbell indicated the proponents are redesigning the project. This will likely require a new application and a completely new EIR.  As a result, the project is not expected to return to the Planning Commission for approximately one year. See the video starting at 39:50.

January 31, 2019:  The Planning Commission held a special study session on  the project application, starting at  4:30 p.m. (see public notice and video).  Agenda and staff report here.

In yet a another twist, the newly-appointed Planning Commissioner, Curtis Ellmore, revealed that his real estate company leases a building at 5000 Birch, adjacent to the project.  As a result, he and three of the other conflicted Commissioners drew cards to decide who among them would hear the matter.  Commissioner Lee Lowrey (who is conflicted because of a membership interest in the adjacent Pacific Club) was selected by the random process.

The study session continued with Commissioners Zak, Koetting, Weigand and Lowrey listening to comments from staff, the applicant’s team and members of the public.  At the end of the meeting, the applicant, Bill Shopoff, said he would “make some adjustments” based on what he’d heard.

A good way to prepare for the study session was to review the comment letters received regarding the Draft Environmental Impact Report, and the City’s responses to them, which, due to the long delay have been available for more than a year, now. The new staff report referenced the report posted in 2018 as well as additional letters received since then. Still more letters, pro and con, were received in connection with the January 31 meeting.

January 17, 2019:  Staff obtains Planning Commission agreement to change previously announced January 31 study session time from 6:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

November 27, 2018:  The City Council appoints Curtis Ellmore to fill the vacancy on the Planning Commission.

November 8, 2018:  The 5:00 p.m. re-do of the Study Session (that originally began on January 18) was cancelled due to the unexpected resignation (on September 25) of Bill Dunlap, one of the four Planning Commissioners needed to hear the application.

September 25, 2018:  Planning Commission Secretary Bill Dunlap, one of the four Commissioners constituting the quorum expected to hear the Koll Center Residences application, submitted a letter of resignation, informing the City medical issues forced him to leave the Commission.  The City clerk has since posted a vacancy notice.

September 13, 2018:  The City needs a quorum of four Planning Commissioners to take action on the Koll Center Residences proposal.  However, four of the current Commissioners — including the previously announced Commissioner Kramer — were found to have financial conflicts of interest that would normally prevent them from discussing the matter.  That left only three who could vote, which is less than a quorum.  In such a circumstance, a rarely-used provision in California’s ethics laws allows a quorum be be achieved by adding a conflicted Commissioner to the decision-making panel by a “drawing of lots.”  This was done at the Commission’s September 13 meeting, with Chair Peter Zak (who has an interest in a business with offices across Von Karman from the project site) drawing the “winning” card. The panel hearing the Koll Center Residences application will thus consist of Dunlap, Koetting, Weigand and Zak.

May 31, 2018:  The four Commissioners who are allowed to hear the Koll proposal (Koetting, Dunlap, Kramer and Weigand) were expected to meet for a special afternoon public study session about the project.  However, the meeting was canceled, purportedly due to an inability to to assemble a quorum, and needs to be rescheduled.  A new date has not yet been set.

May 24, 2018:  The City announced the long-planned May 31 study session has been canceled.  Speculation is that one of the four Commissioners needed to hear the matter learned he would have been unable to attend.  This likely will change the timing of the previously-announced June 21 hearing date, as well.

March 22, 2018:  In his report to the Planning Commission at the end of their meeting, the Community Development Director selected May 31 at 4:00 p.m. as the date and time for a study session on the Koll Center Residences proposal. Of several dates suggested, it was one of the few on which the four Commissioners able (and needed) to hear the matter thought they could get together.  The Director said the PC hearing on the application would come on June 21.

January 18, 2018 @ 6:30 p.m.: The Newport Beach Planning Commission started to hold a public study session on the project, long deferred from the date that had been scheduled and announced in the DEIR:  October 19, 2017. The staff report included responses to the comments on the Draft EIR received on or before November 13, 2017.  However, after a brief staff report, and introductory comments, the applicant asked for the session to be postponed due to uncertainty over which Planning Commissioners would ultimately be able to vote on the matter (several of them having financial conflicts of interest).  A video of the meeting is available, with the Koll Center Residences segment running for about 17 minutes starting at 1:43.  At 1:55:50 the Assistant City Attorney makes the announcement that one more of the Commissioners had to leave the room due to a potential financial conflict of interest. The discussion about future scheduling conflicts begins at 2:06:45.

January 9, 2018Responses to the public’s comments on the DEIR were posted on the City website.

November 13, 2017 @ 5:00 p.m.:  Due date for written comments regarding the accuracy and adequacy of the DEIR. In the Final EIR, the City is required to provide written responses to comments submitted by this deadline. Comments about deficiencies in the EIR can continue to be made up until the final project approval by the City Council. However, there is no legal requirement for a formal response to comments submitted after November 13.

October 31, 2017:  As promised at the previous night’s developer presentation, the City amended its DEIR comment extension notice to indicate written comments on the adequacy of the DEIR will be accepted through November 10 (later corrected, in view of the City Hall being closed on that date, to the next business day, November 13).

October 30, 2017:  At the City’s invitation the developer provided a roughly hour-long presentation about the project in the Friends Room at the Central Library, followed by questions and answers (but not comments) from the audience. SPON feels this City-invited sales pitch was a poor substitute for the more objective and on-record study session before the Planning Commission that had been previously announced (but cancelled without explanation) during the period the public is expected to comment on the Draft EIR. At this meeting, City staff announced the public comment period would be extended an additional seven days, to November 10, and that a Planning Commission study session on the project had been set for January 18, 2018. There was also an understanding that the developers PowerPoint would be made available on the City’s website.

October 18, 2017:  City announced extension of due date for written comments on the DEIR from October 27 to a new deadline of November 3 at 5:00 pm.  City also announced a “public forum” to be provided by the developer on October 30.  This is a substitute for the October 19 public study session before the Planning Commission which had been announced with release of the DEIR, but cancelled without explanation.

September 13, 2017:  The Draft EIR was released for public review. Comments submitted by October 27 will receive a written response in the Final EIR.  The public can continue to comment on the EIR until such time as it is certified, but the City is not required to provide a formal response to comments made after October 27.  Further details are available in the City’s announcement.

January 18, 2017: A scoping meeting for the project’s Environmental Impact Report was held  with comments due by February 2.

News Coverage

Helpful Links


Local Coastal Program Amendments

Planning Commission to review Residential Design Standards proposal on May 6

Latest News
Project Overview
Why We’re Watching
Current Proposals

Minor LCP clean-up package
Major LCP clean-up package
Peninsula Point Oceanfront Encroachment Program
Accessory Dwelling Unit amendment
Setback Map adjustments
City/CCC Jurisdictional Boundary Change Request
Categorical Exclusion Order modification
Adding Newport Coast to the LCP
Port Master Plan
Balboa Village Parking Management District
Balboa Area Residential Permit Parking Program
Development standards for low-lying areas
Transfer of development rights
Residential Design Standards
Cottage preservation
Lido Isle hedge heights

Recent Events
Other Coastal Act related Watch List items
News Coverage
Helpful Links

Latest News:  The package of major LCP amendment requests authorized to be submitted to the California Coastal Commission by City Council Resolution No. 2017-56, including relaxed height restrictions, a new power for the the Community Development Director to waive the public hearing requirement for CDP applications that he deems to involve “minor” development, and the City’s request to be able to grant variances from and modifications to the development standards certified by the CCC, have now been approved with the exception of a request to weaken protections against shoreline armoring. The City Council accepted the amended language at its February 12, 2019, meeting, with final adoption on February 26 and certification by the CCC on April 11. Meanwhile, as Item 13 on its January 22, 2019, agenda, the Council accepted the revisions to its Accessory Dwelling Units policies and regulations approved by the Coastal Commission on October 12, 2018.  And on April 9 the Council approved submitting to the Coastal Commission a new amendment request to eliminate the off-street parking requirements for many businesses in Balboa Village. The City’s request to allow private encroachments onto the beach in the East Ocean Front area of Peninsula Point (near the wedge) was unanimously rejected at the Commission’s July 2019 meeting.  Meanwhile, the City is advancing several other proposals. They include allowing development rights to be transferred from one property to another, increased hedge heights on Lido Isle and relaxation of residential parking standards to encourage cottage preservation. See the City’s LCP amendments page for Notices of Availability of the text of the many amendment proposals.

Background:  The Newport Beach Local Coastal Program sets policies and detailed rules for issuing Coastal Development Permits, which are the main mechanism for ensuring activities within the Coastal Zone of the City comply with the California Coastal Act

The LCP consists of two main parts:

  • The Newport Beach Coastal Land Use Plan, a CCC-certified general policy document last comprehensively adopted and amended by City Council Resolution No. 2009-53.
  • The Implementation Plan, a CCC-certified set of detailed regulations made part of the Newport Beach Municipal Code by City Council Ordinance No. 2016-19.
    • The certified IP, Title 21 of the NBMC, is a modified version of the original proposal submitted to the CCC by the City Council with Resolution No. 2015-99 on November 10, 2015.
    • The Council’s proposal was heard by the CCC at its September 8, 2016, meeting in Newport Beach (Item 21c).
    • The modifications suggested by the CCC on September 8 and ultimately accepted by the City Council can be seen in the report for Item 11 from the Council’s November 7, 2016, meeting.

There is also:

  • A Coastal Zone Boundary Map and a Post-LCP Certification Permit and Appeal Jurisdiction Map produced and approved by the CCC, which delineate the areas within which the CCC is the original issuer of CDP’s and the areas within which those approved by the City can be appealed to the CCC.
    • The Implementation Plan review process included minor adjustments to the City’s Coastal Zone Boundary, approved by the CCC at its April 14, 2016, meeting (Item 11a).
    • The current appeals map was approved by the CCC at its March 8, 2017, meeting (Item 21a).
  • Categorical Exclusion Order CE-5-NPB-16-1, adopted by the CCC on November 4, 2016, (Item 16a) which exempts certain kinds of residential construction in certain areas from CDP requirements.  The City has a FAQ explaining the “Cat Ex”, as well as a list of development that has been deemed eligible for it.

Changes to any of the above require approval by the CCC, and theory, notices of proposed changes to the LCP are available on the City website as required by Sections 13552(a) and 13515 of Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations (in Division 5.5, implementing the Coastal Act).

Project Overview: Effective January 30, 2017, some 45 years after passage of the voter-enacted precursor to California’s Coastal Act (1972’s Proposition 20), the City of Newport Beach finally, and for the first time, obtained a fully certified Local Coastal Program authorizing it to process and issue such permits.   But the ink was barely dry on the LCP, when it became apparent a raft of seemingly staff-generated amendments was being rushed to approval with very little public awareness.  Proposed changes to the LCP are sometimes, but not always or in any systematic way, noticed on the City’s Implementation Plan page.

Why We’re Watching:   SPON is very concerned both with the process and with the substance of the proposed amendments.  The process is especially difficult to follow since their seems to be negotiation between City and Coastal Commission staff, out of the public eye.  In addition, because the number of requests is large, trying to keep track of them, and their status, is difficult.  In all cases, if a City proposal is amended by the Coastal Commission at their hearing, possibly as a result of the private negotiations, the Council would have to agree to the CCC’s amendments or abandon the proposals.

Current Proposals:  The number of changes that have been proposed since certification of the LCP in 2017 is so large it is difficult to keep track, but the current set of City proposals and their status is believed to be as follows:

  • “Minor” LCP “clean-up” package :
    • Originally consisted of nine unrelated insertions and deletions.
    • Submitted to the CCC by City Council Resolution No. 2017-45 on July 11, 2017, after removal of a controversial staff proposal to exempt “planned communities” from the long-standing 35-foot height limitation in the “Shoreline Height Limitation Zone” from the foot of the coastal bluffs to the sea.
    • Apparently on advice of Coastal Commission staff, three of the proposals were resubmitted as “major” LCP amendments (see next item) on September 12, 2017.
    • Coastal staff placed approval of the remaining proposals as Item Th11a on the Commission’s November 9, 2017, agenda, but was granted up to a year to complete processing, including considering if more of the “minor” proposals were, in fact, “major” amendments.
    • The parts culled out for the November 2017 meeting were approved, with modified recommendations, as Item 22a at the Commission’s July 11, 2018, meeting, contingent  upon City acceptance of the changes.  The City Council introduced the ordinance making the changes at its September 25 meeting (Item 19).  The most significant change as a result of these “clean ups” is that the Community Development Director will be able to waive the public hearing requirement for CDP’s for what he deems to be “minor” development. However, anyone objecting to that decision can ask for the public hearing to be held. As a result of confusion about the CCC-recommended changes, the ordinance implement the “minor” revisions had to be reintroduced by the Council on October 23 (Item 11), and was adopted by the Council on November 13 (Item 3).  The Coastal Commission certified the adequacy of the City’s action on December 12, 2018 (Item 24c).

Note:  Because of rules governing how many LCP amendment requests can be submitted in a calendar year, the following three items that had previously been submitted to the CCC separately (“Clean-up,” “Encroachments” and “ADUs”) were resubmitted as a single “major” LCP amendment request with City Council Resolution No. 2017-56. The package was deemed complete on May 3, 2018.

Item F9a on the Coastal Commission’s June 8, 2018, agenda is a request to defer final action by up to a year on the following package of changes in order to give Coastal staff time to better evaluate the changes:

    • “Major” LCP “clean-up” package
      • Three of the items removed from the earlier “minor” clean-up package of Resolution No. 2017-45 were re-submitted as part of City Council Resolution No. 2017-56 on September 12, 2017.
      • The proposals named in the latter resolution deal with:
        • Rules regarding shoreline protective devices
        • Allowing a 75% expansion of nonconforming residential structures
        • Establishing rules for deviations from the development standards via variances and modifications
      • This package of proposals was approved, with modifications, by the Coastal Commission as Item 24b when it met in Newport Beach on December 12, 2018
      • As Item 15 at its February 12, 2019, meeting, the City Council adopted a resolution modifying the Coastal Land Use Plan as approved by the CCC and introduced an ordinance accepting and incorporating the Implementation Plan changes.
      • Final adoption occurred as Item 5 on the February 26 consent calendar.
      • The Coastal Commission certified the changes on April 11.

    • Peninsula Point Oceanfront Encroachment Program

      • This is a proposal to allow the yards of private homes abutting the beach from Balboa Village to the Wedge to legally encroach out onto the beach, similar to what is currently allowed in West Newport.
      • The proposal was formally submitted to the Coastal Commission by City Council Resolution No. 2017-50 on July 25, 2017, and then resubmitted as part of Resolution No. 2017-56 on September 12, 2017.
      • This request was considered as Item 26a at the Coastal Commission’s July 10, 2019, meeting in San Luis Obispo, where it was unanimously rejected.
      • Instead, the City will need to see the existing encroachments are removed.

    • Accessory Dwelling Unit amendment

      • This is a proposal to amend the LCP Implementation to align with changes recently made to corresponding sections of the Zoning Code in response to a new state law.
      • The proposal was formally submitted to the Coastal Commission by City Council Resolution No. 2017-51 on July 25, 2017, and then resubmitted as part of Resolution No. 2017-56 on September 12, 2017.
      • This request was scheduled for consideration as Item 15b on October 12, 2018, CCC agenda
      • While the original request was pending, additional changes were made to state law, and so on September 11, 2018, as part of Item 12, the City Council adopted Resolution No. 2018-65, authorizing City staff to submit further changes to the ADU regulations in the LCP.  However, those changes were intended to mirror ones being made to the City Zoning Code by Ordinance No. 2018-14, and when that ordinance was presented for second reading on September 25, staff recommended not adopting it until further review could be completed.  Since it may not match the changes to the Zoning Code, one might guess the new request to the CCC has been “recalled.”
      • When the CCC staff report for October 12, 2018 (Item 15b), was posted, it magically included most of the changes proposed by Council Resolution No. 2018-65 (without acknowledging those had been formally submitted).  That hybrid amendment (which may or may not agree with the City’s final Zoning Code changes) was approved by the CCC and is awaiting acceptance by the City Council.
      • The Council accepted the modified policies and recommendations as Item 13 on its January 22, 2019, agenda, with final adoption of February 12. The Coastal Commission certified the amendments on April 11.

  • Setback Map adjustments :
    • On a separate track from the other “minor” amendments to the LCP, the City has pending a request to correct what it regards as “errors” in the setback maps that are included as exhibits in the LCP-IP.  This mirrors corrections previously made to the identical maps in the Zoning Code, and will affect eight inland parcels on Lido Isle.
    • Per the CCC staff report, the origin of the item is as follows: “On July 6, 2017, the Newport Beach Planning Commission conducted a public hearing and adopted Planning Commission Resolution No. 2062. The Newport Beach City Council held a public hearing on September 12, 2017 [Item 23] and passed City Council Resolution No. 2017-59 authorizing City staff to submit the LCP amendment to the Coastal Commission for certification. “
    • The request was heard and approved by the Coastal Commission on September 14, 2018.

Additional requests from the City submitted to the CCC:

  • City/CCC Jurisdictional Boundary Change Request
      • According to an email from Newport Beach Planning Manager Patrick Alford, the City has asked the Coastal Commission’s mapping unit to redraw the appeal boundary to move five properties from Coastal Commission permit jurisdiction to City jurisdiction.  That is, to allow the City to approve permits for development on those properties, subject to appeal to the Coastal Commission.
        • See what appears to the CCC’s official “Post LCP Certification Permit and Appeal Jurisdiction” map on the LCP Address Lookup & Maps page.
        • The City’s understanding of the boundary locations can be seen more clearly using, under “Layers,” the “Community Development Layers“…”Local Coast Program“…”Permit and Appeal Jurisdiction” options in its zoomable online GIS Map Viewer.  The areas of original CCC jurisdiction are those in the hatched “Permit Jurisdiction Area,” seaward of the shaded “Appeal Jurisdiction” area (where City approvals can be appealed to the CCC).
          • The City’s mapping of tidelands can be found under “Public Works Layers“…”Harbor Resources Layers“…”Tidelands Survey“.
      • The five properties the City asked to take jurisdiction over were the Newport Harbor Yacht Club, Balboa Bay Club, Sea Scout Base, OC Harbor Patrol/USCG station and Newport Aquatic Center.
        • It is unclear when or if this request was authorized by the City Council or how it was noticed to the public.
        • In its original proposal for the Implementation Program, submitted to the CCC with Resolution No. 2015-99, the City had offered its own understanding of the appeals map, as shown on pages 472, 473 and 474, as well as a map of its Public Trust Lands, on page 476.  Those maps did not appear to include the presently requested exclusions.
      • The Coastal Commission was scheduled to hear the request as Item 10a on its Friday May 11, 2018, agenda.  According to the agenda, such changes can be allowed “pursuant to Coastal Act Section 30613.”  Ultimately, the item was postponed without a staff report being posted.
      • The request reappeared, with full staff report and supporting documentation, as Item 23a on the Commission’s  July 11 agenda.
        • CCC staff recommended approving the Sea Scout Base request, rejecting the Aquatic Center request and retaining control of the sandy beaches at the Balboa Bay Club, the Coast Guard/Harbor Patrol Station and the Newport Harbor Yacht Club.
        • The Coastal Commission rejected pleas from the City’s lobbyist to take control of the beaches, and approved the transfers of jurisdiction as recommended by their staff.
        • However, the Commission appears to have ceded permitting authority for the bulkheads to the City. A later “clarification” from CCC staff indicates the Commission transferred jurisdiction over the “land” to the seaward edge of bulkheads, but not to the bulkheads themselves (since they are subject to wave action).

  • Categorical Exclusion Order modification
    • Item 6 on the City Council’s May 8 Consent Calendar was an unexpected request to amend the City’s “Categorical Exclusion Order.”
    • The proposed amendment (the details of which were, curiously, not shown) would exempt homes with floor area ratios of 2 on lots of 4,000 square feet and less from the need to apply for a Coastal Development Permit.  The current limit for such homes is 1.5.
    • The matter had not previously been discussed.
    • The change was unanimously approved as part of the CCC’s August 10, 2018, agenda, where it was Item F21a, and accepted by the City Council at their September 11, 2018, meeting.

  • Adding Newport Coast to the LCP
    • The Coastal Zone portion of Newport Coast has its own LCP, created by the County of Orange prior to that area’s annexation by the City and still administered by them.
    • As Item 12 on its July 25, 2017, agenda, the City Council directed City staff to begin work on adding Newport Coast to the City’s LCP.
    • The proposal is still a City staff level effort and nothing has been formally presented to the CCC.
    • This could prove very problematic considering the large quantity of unbuilt allocations. According to the July 25 staff report, that includes 182 homes, 1,046 hotel rooms and 75,933 square feet of commercial development.
    • SPON is, therefore, watching with concern.

  • Port Master Plan
    • One of the City’s most recent efforts (but currently on “pause,” or abandoned altogether) was (without CCC concurrence or involvement) to promote legislation amending the Coastal Act to give the City the authority to create a Port Master Plan, described by the City as “an LCP for the water.”
    • This would purportedly allow the City to approve permits for construction and activities in the water areas of the harbor, which all currently require approval by the Coastal Commission.
    • Details remain sketchy, but if this ever happened, it would presumably require changes to the LCP to incorporate the Port Master Plan.

  • Balboa Village Parking Management Overlay District
    • This is a proposal to remove most of the requirement for businesses in Balboa Village to provide off-street parking
    • In 2015, with Ordinance No. 2014-20, the City Council made changes to the Zoning Code (Newport Beach Municipal Code Title 20) creating the overlay district.
    • However, and despite the City apparently not thinking such action needed Coastal Commission approval, the City was at that time negotiating its LCP Implementation Plan, which generally shadows the Zoning Code, and the Coastal Commission deleted the corresponding language from it (see CCC suggested modifications, as presented at the special November 7, 2016, City Council meeting).
    • A major Coastal Act concern is that marine-related and visitor-attracting businesses appear to be treated less favorably than others.
    • Pursuant to Section 21.28.030.D of the IP, creation of the parking overlay district will require an amendment to the IP.
    • Although we believe City staff has been in contact with CCC staff about this, we have been unable to find a Council resolution authorizing submission of a formal request to the Coastal Commission.
    • On December 20, 2018, City staff posted an announcement that on February 12, 2019, it will be asking the City Council for permission to submit to the Coastal Commission a request to add language to the Local Coastal Program creating the Balboa Village Parking Management Overlay District.  The proposed language appears to be identical to that added to the Zoning Code in 2015 and rejected by the Coastal Commission in 2016.
    • The City re-noticed the matter for a hearing before the Planning Commission on February 21, 2019, and on April 9, 2019 the City Council approved submitting the amendments to the Coastal Commission.
    • This matter was listed for hearing as Item 10b on the Coastal Commission’s agenda for August 13, 2020, but later marked as “postponed.”

  • Balboa Area Residential Permit Parking Program
    • Closely related to the Balboa Village Parking Management District request, this is a proposal to initiate a residents-only parking program (or “RP3“) in the area west of Balboa Village to cope with the increased demand expected from the Parking Management District.
    • Prior to having a certified LCP, and the local permit approval authority that goes with it, the City Council, pursuant to Item 14 at the Council’s October 27, 2015, meeting, directed City staff to file an application for a permit parking Coastal Development Permit with the Coastal Commission, but the application seems never to have gone anywhere.
    • Now that the City has a fully certified LCP, it claims it can, consistent with the LCP, approve the CDP itself — although it believes that approval would likely be appealed to the Coastal Commission.
      • Coastal Commission staff appears to disagree with this, and believes the creation of new Preferential Parking Zones anywhere within the City’s Coastal Zone would first require an amendment to the LCP, which would have to be approved by the CCC.
      • Indeed, City-proposed language that would have allowed approval of CDP’s for PPZ’s was not included in the certified LCP (see the CCC modifications as presented and accepted by the Council at a special November 7, 2016, meeting).
      • See also page 12 of the CCC staff report regarding their Post LCP Certification Permit and Appeal Jurisdiction Map, Item W21a at the CCC’s March 8, 2017, meeting, in which the CCC acceded to allowing parts of the interiors of Balboa and Lido Islands to be placed outside the CCC appeal area based, in part, on their understanding that restrictive parking programs could not be created there without an amendment to the LCP.
    • Before considering approving a CDP on its own, City staff attempted to re-assess residents’ interest in the program at a community meeting held at Marina Park on May 7, 2018.  Based on the mixed results obtained there (mostly against the proposal), City staff promised to conduct a new mailed survey.
    • Based on the new survey (which showed close to 50% opposition), and the likelihood of appeal and rejection by the CCC, City staff announced that its plans to establish an “RP3” have been permanently shelved.

  • Development standards for low-lying areas
    • The tentative agenda provided to the Planning Commission at its January 31, 2019, meeting indicated that at its February 26 meeting the City Council will be presented with a proposal to initiate LCP and Zoning Code amendments creating new development standards for “parking and accessory structures in low lying areas.”
    • This appears to be a follow-up to the sea level rise and flood adaptation concerns presented to the Council at its January 22, 2019, study session (see next to last slide of Item SS4 PowerPoint presentation).
    • The staff work necessary to prepare the amendment was unanimously initiated by the City Council as part of agenda Item 16 on March 26, 2019.

  • Transfer of development rights
    • On August 8, 2019, notice was posted that City staff is proposing amending the LCP “to include a policy and regulations pertaining to the transfer of development rights in a manner consistent with and allowed by the Newport Beach General Plan.”
    • See the Notice of Availability for the details of the proposed new language.
    • This appears to be intended to allow the City Council to modify the CCC-approved land use plan without CCC oversight other than through the Coastal Development Permit appeal process, which is available in only a limited portion of the Coastal Zone.
    • At an August 22 hearing, the Planning Commission recommended the City Council submit the proposal to the City Council. See the Item 5 staff report and PowerPoint.
    • The City Council approved submitting the proposal to the Coastal Commission by adopting Resolution No. 2019-90 on October 8 (see Item 12).
    • As Item 13b at the Coastal Commission’s Thursday, December 12, 2019, the City agreed to a one-year extension of the time for the Commission to act on the request.

  • Residential Design Standards
  •  Note: City staff has posted a web page devoted to this matter
    • After holding a study session (Item SS5) on April 23, 2019, the City Council formally directed staff to prepare code language addressing Residential Massing and Beach Cottage Preservation (Item 4 on May 14), initiating  planning activity PA019-070.
    • On August 19, 2019, a community meeting was held to gather feedback on possible proposals (see flyer).
    • As a result of that, possible amendments regarding Cottage Preservation seem to have split off onto a separate track from those dealing with residential massing and development of single-family homes in multi-family zones.
    • On September 10, 2019, the City Council held a follow-up study session on this part only (see Item SS5).
    • On December 17, 2019, Planning staff posted revised language for consideration (including both Zoning Code and LCP amendments), but the final Notice of Availability was not posted until April 23, 2020. The delay was necessitated, in part, by California Senate Bill 330 (the “Housing Crisis Act”), which went into effect on January 1 and prohibited cities from “downzoning” or imposing subjective design standards on residential properties through 2025.
    • The matter has been scheduled for review by the Planning Commission as Item 2 on May  6, 2020. They will be making a recommendation to the City Council.

  • Cottage preservation
    • This was originally bundled with the Residential Design Standards items described above, but morphed into a separate planning activity PA2019-181.
    • See the Notice of Availability for the original details of the proposed new language dealing with cottage preservation.
    • The proposal was presented to the Planning Commission on October 17 (Item 4) and again on November 21 (Item 4), where still more changes were proposed.
    • The Planning Commission recommended language (different from the original notice) which went to the City Council as  Item 16 on January 28, 2020, and was subsequently adopted.
    • Its applicability to development in the Coastal Zone is pending certification (with possible modifications) by the Coastal Commission.

  • Lido Isle hedge heights
    • On September 10, 2019, as Item 5,  the City Council directed staff to prepare code language addressing a hedge height issue on Lido Isle, initiating  planning activity PA019-132
    • See the Notice of Availability for the details of the proposed language. It would increase the allowable height of hedges along the “strada” (public walkways separating the rear sides of some houses) from the normal citywide standard of 42″ to the Lido Isle Community Association’s preferred 60″.
    • The Planning Commission is tentatively scheduled to review City staff’s proposed language on December 5.
    • The Planning Commission’s recommendation is tentatively scheduled to go to the City Council on February 11, 2020, where they will consider submitting it (with possible modifications) to the Coastal Commission.


  • January 23, 2020:  The Planning Commission is tentatively scheduled to review City staff’s proposal for modifications to the Residential Design Standards.
  • January 28, 2020: The City Council is expected to hear the Cottage preservation proposal recommended to it by the Planning Commission on November 21, 2019.
  • February 11, 2020:  The Planning Commission is expected to review City staff’s proposal for Lido Isle hedge heights.
  • At a date yet to be determined, the Coastal Commission is expected to hear the City’s request to create a Balboa Village Parking Management Overlay District and other proposals described above.

Recent Events:

  • December 12, 2019:  As Item 13b on its agenda, the Coastal Commission delayed by up to one year its hearing on the City’s  “transfer of development rights” LCP amendment request.
  • November 21, 2019: Again as Item 4, the Planning Commission heard a modified Cottage preservation proposal, and voted to recommend its consideration to the City Council.
  • October 17, 2019:  As Item 4, the Planning Commission heard staff’s Cottage preservation proposal, and suggested changes to it.
  • October 8, 2019:  The City Council approved submitting a request to the Coastal Commission to add “transfer of development rights” provisions to the LCP. See notice.
  • September 10, 2019: As Item 5,  the City Council directed staff to prepare code language addressing Lido Isle hedge heights.
  • August 22, 2019:  The Newport Beach Planning Commission heard the proposal to add “transfer of development rights” provisions to the LCP and recommended the City Council submit it to the Coastal Commission.
  • August 19, 2019: A community meeting was held to gather feedback on possible amendments addressing Residential Design Standards and Cottage preservation.
  • July 10, 2019: As Item 26a on its agenda in San Luis Obispo, the Coastal Commission considered, and rejected, the City’s request to amend its Local Coastal Program to allow homeowners along Peninsula Point to extend their private landscaping and yard improvements up to 15 feet out onto the private beach.  Instead, the City will be facing an order to remove the existing encroachments.
  • May 14, 2019:  As Item 4 on its agenda, the Council directed staff to prepare code amendments addressing Residential Design Standards and Cottage preservation.
  • April 23, 2019: The Council held a study session (Item SS5) to consider changes to regulations regarding Residential Massing and Beach Cottage Preservation.
  • April 10, 2019Meeting in Salinas, the Coastal Commission accepted the City’s implementation of two previously-approved matters:  Item 16.1a confirmed the Council’s February 12, 2019, LCP amendment adding new regulations for Accessory Dwelling Units.   Item 16.1b confirmed the Council’s February 12 and 26, 2019, amendments that add exceptions to the Shoreline Height Limit and include a new provision allowing for modifications and variances and allow additions to nonconforming structures.
  • April 9, 2019:  As Item 13 on its agenda,  the City Council directed staff to submit to the Coastal Commission a proposal for amendments to the Local Coastal Program Implementation Plan to create a Balboa Village Parking Management Overlay District, exempting most businesses in Balboa Village from the requirement to provide off-street parking (see notice).
  • March 26, 2019:   As part of agenda Item 16, the City Council directed staff  to ask the City Council to prepare revisions to the LCP and Zoning Code amendments to create new development standards for low-lying areas subject to flood hazards.
  • February 26, 2019:  As Item 5 on the consent calendar, the City Council  adopted the ordinance introduced on February 12, incorporating CCC-approved major amendments into the City’s Implementation Plan.
  • February 21, 2019:  The Planning Commission approved a resolution recommending the City Council approve staff’s request to ask the CCC to amend the LCP to create a Balboa Village Parking Management Overlay District, eliminating the need for most businesses in that area to provide off-street parking.
    • note:  A previous City announcement, indicated this would be going directly to the City Council on February 12.  Both state law and the existing Implementation Plan require the matter first be reviewed by the City’s Planning Commission.
  • February 12, 2019: As Item 15 at its February 12, 2019, meeting, the City Council adopted a resolution modifying the Coastal Land Use Plan as approved by the CCC on December 12 and introduced an ordinance accepting and making the CCC-approved major amendments to the Implementation Plan.  Final adoption of the ordinance is expected on February 26.
  • January 22, 2019:  As Item 13 on its agenda, the Council introduced ordinances to enact the modified policies and regulations regarding Accessory Dwelling Units approved by the CCC on October 12, 2018, and to make corresponding changes to the local Zoning Code.
  • December 20, 2018:  City staff posts an announcement that on February 12, 2019, it will be asking the City Council for permission to submit to the Coastal Commission a request to add language to the Local Coastal Program creating a Balboa Village Parking Management Overlay District (something that is already in the City’s Zoning Code, but not in its certified LCP Implementation Plan).
  • December 13, 2018:   Although not directly an LCP amendment request by the City, on December 13, while the CCC was meeting in the Council Chambers, the City’s Zoning Administrator approved a Coastal Development Permit establishing a permit parking system for residents of the “Finley Tract” (across Newport Blvd. from the old City Hall site and Lido Village).  Such a CDP approval by the City flies in the face of the CCC’s understanding that such restricted parking zones cannot be established without an amendment to the LCP (see discussion of the since-shelved Balboa Area Residential Permit Parking Program, above).
  • December 12, 2018:  The California Coastal Commission held its three-day monthly meeting in the Newport Beach City Council Chambers.  Item 24b on the Wednesday agenda was consideration of “major” requested amendments to the City’s Local Coastal Program.  See staff report and exhibits, supplemented by correspondence and an addendum.  The amendments, as modified by Coastal Commission staff, were approved, with three Commissioners voting “no.”  As Item 24c, the Commission certified the City’s implementation of the “minor” revisions adopted by the Council on November 13.
  • November 13, 2018: The City Council adopted the ordinance accepting the “minor” changes to the LCP approved by the CCC on July 11.  Final action required is the CCC Director’s determination that the City’s approval matched the CCC’s
  • October 23, 2018: The City Council introduce an ordinance accepting the “minor” changes to the LCP approved by the CCC on July 11.  This had been planned for October 9, but was rescheduled.
  • October 12, 2018:  Coastal Commission approved modified regulations regarding Accessory Dwelling Units at its meeting in San Diego.  Those now have to be accepted by the City.
  • October 9, 2018:  The City Council was scheduled to introduce the ordinance accepting the “minor” LCP amendments approved by the CCC at their July 11 meeting in Scotts Valley.  However, the version transmitted to the City by CCC staff did not match the version approved on July 11.  As a result, Council action was rescheduled for October 23.
  • September 25, 2018:  The City Council accepted the CCC’s approval of its requests for “minor” amendments to the LCP as granted at the CCC’s July 11 meeting.
  • September 14, 2018: As Item 7.1 on its agenda, the Coastal Commission approved a City request to correct “errors” in the setback maps that are part of the LCP.  This was regarded as a “minor amendment,” and affected eight inland parcels on Lido Isle.
  • September 11, 2018:  The City Council accepted the modified Categorical Exclusion Order (see August 10, 2018, below), and adopted resolution requesting additional changes to the regulations in the LCP regarding accessory dwelling units.
  • August 10, 2018:  In the interest of “governmental efficiency,” the Coastal Commission unanimously approved the City’s request to expand its Categorical Exclusion Order.  This was Item F21a on the agenda.
  • July 11, 2018:  Most of the “Minor LCP Clean-up” package first considered on November 9, 2017 (but now billed as “Major”), as well as the boundary change request (previously noticed for May 11, 2018), were heard and approved (with CCC staff modifications) on the Coastal Commission’s  July 11 agenda as Items 22a and 23a.
  • June 8, 2018: As Item F9a on its agenda, the Coastal Commission granted its staff an up-to-one-year extension of time to review the City’s package of “major” LCP amendment requests.  The City’s “coastal advocate,” Don Schmitz, spoke on the item, and told the Commission the City had been promised that despite the extension, the parts of its “major amendments” package other than the Peninsula Point beachfront encroachments would be ready for action at the August meeting.
  • May 11, 2018:  As Item 10a on its Friday May 11 agenda, the Coastal Commission was scheduled to hear the “City/CCC Jurisdictional Boundary Change Request” (see “Why We’re Watching,” above), but the item has been postponed.
  • May 8, 2018Item 6, approved on the May 8 City Council Consent Calendar, was an unexpected request to amend the City’s “Categorical Exclusion Order.”  The proposed amendment (the details of which were, curiously, not shown) would exempt homes with floor area ratios of 2 on lots of 4,000 square feet and less from the need to apply for a Coastal Development Permit.  The current limit for such homes is 1.5.  The matter had not previously been discussed.  The change would have to be approved by the CCC.
  • May 7, 2018:  At 6:00 p.m. at Marina Park, City staff held a community meeting to reassess interest in establishing a Residential Permit Parking Program for the area west of Balboa Village (a CDP application having been formerly submitted to the CCC per Item 14 at the Council’s October 27, 2015, meeting, but never completed).  With many attendees opposed to the proposal, promises were made to conduct a new “stakeholder” survey.  Should the City choose to go ahead with the “RP3,” it says it could now issue its own CDP, but its approval would likely be appealed to the CCC.  CCC staff appears to believe a CCC-approved amendment to the certified Implementation Plan would be necessary before any CDP for a new parking program could be approved.
  • November 9, 2017:  The California Coastal Commission granted staff a continuance of up to a year to further consider the package of “minor” LCP amendments submitted by the City.  Much less time than that is expected, but a rehearing date has not yet been set. To recap, the Coastal Commission announced that as Item Th11a at its hearing in Bodega Bay on November 9, the Commission would be reviewing their Executive Director’s declaration of the “minor” portions of the City’s July 11, 2017, submittal — which would, in the absence of objection by the Commission, be deemed approved. However, Coastal staff has asked for the entire matter to be taken temporarily off calendar, and nothing has yet been approved.
    • An exhibit to the CCC’s November 9 staff report showed the City’s Resolution No. 2017-45 with the parts deemed “not minor” by CCC staff crossed out. However, of the parts being deemed “minor,” proposed Amendment #2 would create relaxed development standards for a Lido Villas Planned Community, and Amendment #12 would eliminate the need for public hearing on many Coastal Development Permits.
    • The crossed out parts include all the worrisome language the City proposed on July 11 changing the height limit rules. Since that language is not in the September 12 repackaging and consolidation of “major” amendments, it appears the City is not pursuing a relaxation of the height limits, at least for the moment.
    • For those having trouble accessing the November 9 CCC files, they consist of a report, an exhibit (the City requests) and an addendum (asking for the continuation to a later meeting).
  • September 12, 2017:  Staff returned to the Council with a report that the City was in danger of exceeding the number of major amendments to the LCP allowed in a single calendar year.  The CCC’s rule apparently allows multiple major amendments if they are part of a single submittal.  As a result, in Item 3 on the consent calendar, City staff asked the Council to adopt Resolution No. 2017-56, which combined in a single submittal the Oceanfront Encroachment and Accessory Dwelling Unit proposals from July 25 with three proposals from July 11 that the CCC had deemed “major” (regarding shoreline protective devices, allowing a 75% expansion of nonconforming residential structures, and establishing rules for deviations from the development standards via variances and modifications).
    • The staff report did not identify which portions of the July 11 proposal had been deemed “minor,” requiring only the CCC Director’s approval.  However, Resolution No. 2017-56 submits none of the language creating new exceptions to the City’s building height limits, suggesting that request has been dropped.
    • In addition, the status remains unclear for a Parking Management District in Balboa Village (removing any requirement for businesses to provide off-street parking), which seems to have not been formally submitted at all.
  • July 25, 2017: Three items proposing changes to the LCP appeared on the City Council agenda:
    • As Item 18, the Council adopted Resolution No. 2017-50, submitting to the CCC a proposed amendment to the LCP to allow beach encroachments in the Peninsula Point area.
    • As part of Item 19, Resolution No. 2017-51 submitted an amendment allowing Accessory Dwelling Units.
    • As Item 12 on the consent calendar, the Council agreed to “Initiate amendments to the City’s certified Local Coastal Program and the Newport Coast Planned Community Development Plan to incorporate Newport Coast into the City’s certified Local Coastal Program. ”  Little more is known of this latter proposal, as it does not appear to have been the subject of any other public discussion.
  • July 11, 2017:  As Item 10 at its evening meeting, the City Council heard the  “clean-up” portion of the proposed LCP amendments, including a provision that would have exempted planned communities from the City’s longstanding height limits, even in the so-called 35′ Shoreline Height Limit Area.  The Council questioned that proposal and asked staff to come back with a revised “clean-up” eliminating that proposal.  The matter did not come back, but the resulting Resolution No. 2017-45, as signed by the Mayor, differed from the one presented to the Council in the Item 10 staff report by having the planned community exception removed.
  • May 18, 2017:  At the Corona del Mar Residents Association‘s monthly meeting, the City’s Community Development Director, Kimberly Brandt, and Deputy Director, Brenda Wisneski, gave a presentation entitled “Local Coastal Plan Amendments (Shoreline Properties) & future General Plan Update Project” (see the agenda).   Regarding the LCP Amendments, Ms. Wisneski indicated that despite the Newport Beach Planning Commission’s action on May 4 (recommending Council approve the flawed amendment package exactly as presented by staff), instead of sending the proposal directly to the City Council, City staff is working with the Coastal Commission staff in Long Beach to figure out what might actually fly (before it becomes effective, whatever amendments the Council approves have to be certified by the Coastal Commission, which looks to their own staff to spot problems with them).  She anticipated this process might take several months, but did not explain exactly what would happen at the end of it.  That is, would a revised set of amendments be brought back to the Planning Commission for public re-consideration?  Or (as happened with the original LCP) would the Council adopt City staff’s (flawed) package, but with a forewarning (based on the staff discussions) of what parts the Coastal Commission would likely change or reject?  Apparently time will tell.
  • May 4, 2017:  The amendments were re-noticed for a hearing before the Planning Commission as Item 3 on May 4.  At that hearing, it seemed apparent most of the Commissioners either had not reviewed the item in advance of the meeting, or were not interested in it.  Despite the many flaws pointed out to them (see above under “Why We’re Watching”), on a 5:1 vote (with Commissioner Lawler absent and Commissioner Weigand voting “no”) the Commission, without any substantive comment or any revisions at all, recommended the Council approve all the amendments as submitted.
    • As presented to the Planning Commission the amendment package consisted of three (or eleven, depending on how one counts) completely unrelated items:
      • a Balboa Village Parking Management District plan (eliminating off-street parking requirements for most businesses in that area)
      • an East Oceanfront Encroachment Program (allowing private improvements on the first 15 feet of the public beach in front of most ocean-facing homes in Peninsula Point from E Street to the Wedge)
      • a “Implementation Plan Clean-up” package (itself consisting of nine unrelated insertions and changes to the Coastal Land Use Plan and the Implementation Plan)
    • Whatever one may think of the merits of staff’s proposals, the proposals themselves are deeply flawed:
      • As indicated in a SPON letter, the Parking Management plan prioritizes resident-serving commercial uses over marine-related ones, in contradiction of Coastal Act policies.
      • The Encroachment Program introduces new regulations into the Implementation Plan that permit development in areas where it is explicitly prohibited by the governing Land Use Plan.
      • The “Clean-up,” among other contradictions, deletes the Coastal Commission approved  Land Use Plan policy exceptions that allowed the Lido House Hotel (being built at the old City Hall site) to rise to 65 feet in a 35-foot height limitation zone, but retains the Implementation Plan regulations allowing such excess heights (now without explanation or justification).
    • On a separate track, City staff proposed amending both the Zoning Code and the LCP to accommodate what they say are changes required by new state laws in the City’s rules for “Accessory Dwelling Units” (small rental units) in single-family neighborhoods.  This was heard as Item 2 at the Planning Commission’s May 4,  2017, meeting. The Commission showed more interest in this than the other amendments, and voted to continue the item until they had more time to study it.
  • April 11, 2017:  With little to no prior public awareness, action by the Council on the LCP amendments was scheduled for a public hearing as Item 18 on the April 11 agenda.  As a result of reminders from the public that Council action was not legally allowed without a Planning Commission recommendation (as required by Table 21.50-1 in the newly certified Implementation Plan), the item was withdrawn.

Other Coastal Act related Watch List items
The following items on the SPON Watch List are claimed to be consistent with the currently certified Local Coastal Program, but they need Coastal Development permits and potentially raise Coastal Act consistency issues:

  • 2607 Ocean Blvd – appeal of City’s approval of a CDP for expansion of bluff face residence at China Cove in Corona del Mar
  • Balboa Theater –  proposal to remodel the theater to heights inconsistent with the LCP using a likely expired CDP approved prior to certification of the LCP
  • Newport Dunes Hotel – request for City approval of a 270 room hotel on County tidelands — if approved by the City, it will need a CDP from the Coastal Commission
  • Newport Village – proposal to redevelop large parcels along Mariners Mile, adding residences and retail
  • Tennis Club (Newport Center) – recently approved request for CDP for a previously-approved resort proposal exceeding Greenlight development limits
  • Port Master Plan – hopefully dead plan to avoid state oversight by winning CCC pre-approval of City actions with regard to development in the harbor tidelands

News Coverage

Helpful Links


Harbor Pointe Senior Living

Harbor Pointe Senior Living  . . .  as of June 2019
Council to consider authorizing $75 million bond to be issued by developer

Project Overview:  This is a proposal to build a 4-story, 121-bed convalescent and congregate care facility at the current site of the Kitayama Restaurant on South Bristol.

Why We Were Watching:  Under the city’s General Plan, a project of this sort is not allowed at  the requested location, and hence its approval requires a General Plan amendment.  Such changes to the voter-approved land use designations are always of concern, and in this case neighbors have expressed worries about the building’s compatibility with neighboring residential uses.


June 11, 2019 @7:00 p.m.:  According to a recently-posted notice, the City Council will be consider backing the developers’ request to issue a $75 million bond through the California Statewide Communities Development Authority.  Interestingly, in the notice the development is referred to as “a 99-unit senior living multifamily rental housing project” and promising that “If the Bonds are issued, by law, at least 20 percent of the rental units in the Project are required to be available for occupancy by very low-income tenants at affordable rents,” even though during the previous hearings, the public was told that as “congregate care” the units weren’t considered dwellings and, therefore, didn’t count toward the Greenlight limit for the statistical area, beyond which voter approval would be required.

Recent Events

February 12, 2019:  With Council member Duffield absent, the City Council voted unanimously to approve the application.

January 17, 2019:  The County’s Airport Land Use Commission reviewed the City’s request for a general plan amendment as Item 1 on their agenda.  They unanimously found the amendment consistent with the County’s Airport Environs Land Use Plan.  If they had not, the City Council could have overriden their determination, but it would have taken a super-majority vote.

December 6, 2018:  Planning Commission conducted a hearing on the project and at its conclusion recommended the City Council certify the EIR and approve the project (which will require them to approve changes to the General Plan and zoning).

September 28, 2018:  Public comments were due on the Environmental Impact Report, which was released for review on August 10.  The City’s responses to the comments have since been posted.

September 13, 2018:  A special Planning Commission meeting included the promised “study session” on the Harbor Pointe Senior Living proposal.  Many local residents appeared, most objecting to the project in their neighborhood.

September 6, 2018:  The Planning Commission was scheduled to review the updated project at a study session, but on August 30 it was announced the meeting on that date had been cancelled and will likely be held, instead, as a special meeting on September 13.

August 10, 2018:  Environmental Impact Report, posted for a 50-day public review.  To receive a written response from the City, comments on the EIR must be received by the close of business on September 28.

July 19, 2018:  In his oral report to the Planning Commission, the Community Development Director indicated a study session on this project would be heard by them at their August 9 meeting.  However, we understand that has been postponed to early September.

January 23, 2018:  As Item 4 on its consent calendar, the City Council approved an amendment to the EIR contract.

December 12, 2017:  A Cumulative Projects List of this date says the project is “being revisited and redesigned by applicant/developer” and that EIR preparation was “on hold as of June 8, 2017.”

October 13, 2017:  The case log indicates revised project plans were submitted on this date.

February 23, 2017:  Prior to release of the EIR, the Planning Commission heard about and discussed the proposal, without action, as Item 4 on its agenda.  The “study session” was well attended by Bayview and Santa Ana Heights neighbors, most quite critical of the project as currently proposed.  See the City video.

August 15, 2016:  A scoping meeting for the project’s Environmental Impact Report was held, with comments due by August 22.  Preparation of the EIR presumably started soon after.

News Coverage

Helpful Links


Newport Beach Tennis Club

Newport Beach Tennis Club (Eastbluff) . . . as of April 2017

Project Overview:  The Newport Beach Tennis Club (and swim facility) occupies 7.6 acres at 2601 Eastbluff Drive, adjacent to Ralphs in the Eastbluff Village Center.  Neighbors have heard rumors that the land owner has been approached by a developer interested in purchasing the property and turning it into residential condominiums

Why We Were Watching:  The rumored development is inconsistent with the property’s existing General Plan designation for Parks and Recreation use.  The current owner or potential buyer would therefore need to make a request to change that designation, and the City has no obligation to comply.  SPON views such requests to change the General Plan with great skepticism.

Recent Events:

  • February 14, 2017:  “Mayor Muldoon requested future agenda items on the zoning and future use of the Newport Beach Tennis Club and the roundabout at Bayside Drive” (see City Council Minutes, Item XII).
  • February 28, 2017: Council unanimously approves request for staff to prepare future agenda item providing a “Summary of the Existing General Plan Designation and Zoning for the Newport Beach Tennis Club” (see City Council Minutes, Item XIII).
  • April 11, 2017:  Although it was not on the agenda, under “City Council Announcements” at the April 11 meeting (Item XII), “Mayor Muldoon presented a proclamation to the Newport Beach Tennis Club commending its service to the community.”  Earlier that day, City Manager Dave Kiff sent the following message by email to those seeking information about the development proposal:

Dear Neighbors –

Via an email sent in late January 2017, I promised to keep you updated on activities regarding the Newport Beach Tennis Club.  Recently, an interested buyer of the underlying land and the property owner approached the City at a staff level (our planning staff) to determine what would be required to accommodate residential uses at the site.  Staff told them, as I told you previously, about the requirement for a change in the General Plan (via an Amendment) and the underlying zoning.

Changes in the General Plan are discretionary actions by the City Council – in other words, the Council can say yes or no to them.  In some cases, if enough residential is added or peak hour trips are added, a vote of the Newport Beach electorate is also required following any Council approval of a General Plan Amendment (GPA).

Please know that we have not been notified by either the property owner or the interested buyer of their intent to begin processing a GPA and other related zoning actions.  Should an application be filed, I will let you know as well as provide information regarding the proposed review schedule and at what time you may comment on the proposed project.  The process will include public review and comment opportunities on any draft environmental document, as well as public hearings before both the Planning Commission and City Council.

One additional FYI.  At tonight’s Council meeting, Mayor Kevin Muldoon (also the District #4 representative) intends to give the Tennis Club a proclamation for its service to the community.  No other action is planned for tonight’s meeting.


Dave Kiff
City Manager
City of Newport Beach

  • To date (April 22, 2017), SPON does not believe any formal application for land use change has been submitted to the CIty.  The requested discussion of the zoning status of the property was at one time listed as a tentative Study Session item for the Council’s May 9 meeting, but it is not known if that is still planned.

News Coverage

  • none so far

Helpful Links

  • City’s case log of recent planning applications (not always accurate or up to date)

Note:  title photo from Newport Beach Tennis Club website.

General Plan Amendments

General Plan Projects Update (5/23/2015):
Mission accomplished: Agenda Item 5 Continued!
Our efforts, letters and phone calls worked: the Planning Commission acknowledged at their May 21 meeting that it did not have enough information to approve the General Plan Land Use Element “correction” proposed by staff. More information has notably been requested from the County of Orange, and staff publicly stated that it would continue to confer with SPON on this matter going forward.  In sum, this was a success at every level. Good job!  We will of course be back in touch when we have new news.

General Plan Projects Update (5/2015):  The May 21 Planning Commission will review a staff report/recommendation to correct a General Plan Land Use “error” which will add 300,000 square feet of hotel entitlement space to Newport Coast.  Another example of “piecemeal planning”?  We are currently investigating this issue.

General Plan Projects Update (2/2015): During the City Council Annual Planning Session on January 31, an overview of on-the-books and new projects was presented.  It seems, from this presentation, that the projects outlined in Measure Y were just the tip of the iceberg and the City continues to persist in “piecemeal” planning.

The “short list” includes General Plan Amendments such as the Newport Center Beacon Bay Car Wash to be redeveloped as a seven-story 49-unit residential condominium project and reshuffling Irvine Company entitlements in Newport Center so that shuttered office buildings can be reopened.  The Irvine Company entitlements review will be discussed/voted on at the February 24 City Council Meeting (public notice here).

Municipal Code Amendments for the West Newport Area overlay would allow greater height limits for residential structures in the 57-acre overlay area.

In addition to this specific Municipal Code Amendment, we see an alarming trend toward increasing building height limits and encroachment on public view corridors throughout Newport Beach.

City Contact:
Kim Brandt, Community Development Director
By Email

Questions for SPON:
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